Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Penalties for Family Holidays during term time

Head teachers in England at one time were able to grant up to 10 days leave a year for family holidays in `special circumstances.` The rules have been changed since 1 September 2013 and holidays during term time can now only be granted in `exceptional cases.`Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

A couple who took their children out of school so they could have their first family holiday in five years risk being jailed after refusing to pay fines introduced under controversial new laws.
Stewart and Natasha Sutherland will appear before Telford Magistrates' Court tomorrow after they took their three children to the Greek island of Rhodes during the school term.
The couple were given an initial fine of £360 after the family of five went away for seven days at the end of September, but were unwilling to pay.
The penalty then doubled to £720 because they did not pay the fee within 21 days.

Kay Burford, attendance support team leader for Telford & Wrekin Council said: "Our policy supports new legislation which makes it clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances."

Parents in England and Wales who fail to ensure their children attend school regularly may be issued with penalty notices from the local authority. It has been pointed out by Roger Hayes of the British Constitution Group that penalty notices are a matter for the courts to issue but proper procedures are often ignored.

What is clear is that the assessment of what is best for their children is more and more being taken away from parents.

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