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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Parents are prosecuted for children not going to school

EDUCATION chiefs are pursuing punishments for parents in Cumbria whose children are not at school when they should be.

Figures reveal that 20 have been either prosecuted or fined for unauthorised absences in the last two-and-a-half years.

All of the children involved were pupils at secondary schools.

Details, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show legal action has been taken against parents in the most serious school-skipping cases. They have come to light amid a debate over whether parents should be allowed to take their children on term-time breaks – taking advantage of cheaper-priced holidays.

During the school year between September 2009 and July 2010 three parents were prosecuted with another six penalty notices issued. There were two prosecution and three penalty notices the following year. Between last September and February, six penalty notices were issued.

The penalty notices start with fines of £50.

No details have been disclosed about the type of punishments handed down by the courts for the prosecutions in the most serious cases.

Figures released relate to both schools governed by the local education authority, Cumbria County Council, and independently-governed academy schools, the number of which in Cumbria has boomed in recent years. Parents have been warned of the consequences of their children not properly attending schools.

Responding to the latest figures, a county council spokesman said: “When a pupil’s attendance falls below 85 per cent, schools are expected to initiate attendance procedures which will include letters home, first day contact, home visits, attendance panels and warning letters.

“Where these are unsuccessful the school may work with the local authority and seek prosecution or they may have identified other issues which are causing the attendance problem.

“These may mean prosecution is not the appropriate route and other professionals may be needed to provide family support or learning support.”

Julia Morrison, the county council’s director of children’s services, has also written to all parents to remind them of when family holidays should be taken, saying absences from school should be avoided because of the serious effect on the child’s education.

“If, after serious consideration of this, you still propose to take your child away from school for a holiday, it is important to note that only the headteacher can authorise that absence,” she added.

It is unclear whether penalty notices issued in the last two-and-a-half years related directly to parents taking children out of schools for holidays.

The spokesman added: “Penalty notices do not go to court. It is £50 per parent if paid in 28 days then £100 up to 42 days. If not paid, it would go to prosecution under the 1996 Education Act.”

Have your say

Good to know that children are being treated the same as cars that have outstayed their permitted parking time. The sooner you pay the fine the less it is.
Is there a point being missed here? Or is it all down to money?
I think the Director of Childrens Services budget ought to be increased so that this quango will then progress to being more ineffective than what they already are.
Message: you are there to manage, do it.

Posted by Observer on 21 April 2012 at 00:15

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