ALL parents who take children on vacation during school hours should be fined if cracked down again

Ministers are trying to end the ‘postcode lottery’ over whether or not parents will be penalized for taking their children out of school during school hours

Parents down the line could be fined for taking their kids out of school
Parents could be fined down the line for taking their kids out of school (stock image)

Parents of students who withdraw their children from school during school hours without a valid reason could face fines, the government announced today.

British authorities said it would end a “postcode lottery” over how councils would deal with absenteeism and end truancy.

Parents whose children are unlawfully absent or late for five days in a semester, take a vacation during the semester, or are in public during the first five days of an expulsion face a fixed penalty, the plans suggest.

Families often choose to take vacations during the school holidays as prices can skyrocket during the school holiday season.

In a consultation published on Friday, the government is proposing to keep student registers electronically, with the education minister having centralized access to national register data, while local councils can access all attendance data for schools in their area.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi could be given access to a central database of children who miss school


REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)

A parent would face a maximum of two fines for each child within the school year, with prosecution considered as the next step if that limit is reached.

The government said councils are currently deciding the threshold above which parents are fined and that this would end a “postcode lottery” within a system where parents are fined for absenteeism in some areas and not others will.

The plans would also tighten rules on absenteeism for students in the event of illness. The current rule allows the removal of a student’s name from the registers if their health makes it unlikely that they will attend school.

The Government said this was “obsolete as regulations for students with medical conditions have changed to allow many of them to continue their education in their own school”.

Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi said the plans “will improve consistency across the country and help manage the prolonged absence”.


Wiktor Szymanowicz/REX/Shutterstock)

It also suggests that as a student’s participation in distance learning cannot currently be recorded, online learning could be recorded in the event of absence, “we recognize that as distance learning technology develops… there is a need for this type of participation can be recorded”.

Students with a child protection plan, an education and health plan, or a plan for children in need should not be removed from school lists without the approval of the local council.

And the proposals state that students who are under school age should continue to have their absences recorded, while the law does not currently require their attendance to be recorded.

Pupils who are absent for 15 days or more for health reasons should also be reported to the local council to ensure they and their families receive more support, the government said.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “I know from the work of the Children’s School Attendance Officer that children themselves really appreciate being at school with their teachers and friends.

“My job is to ensure that every child can have these school experiences. The plans unveiled today to reform how absenteeism works, along with our Schools Act currently going through Parliament, will improve consistency across the country and help manage prolonged absenteeism.”

Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner, has called for enrollment to increase to 100% by the fall semester of 2022 in September and has urged the academy foundations to do “whatever is necessary” to achieve this.

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