The next squeeze on your finances: term time holiday fines!
by Alexander Beard, on Aug 22, 2016 8:35:57 AM
Recent research suggests that up to 90,000 parents received fines for taking their child out of school during term time for a holiday. In total, the fines are estimated to amount to a staggering £5.6 million, which is a 267% increase on the estimated £1.5 million worth of fines issued in the 2012-13 academic year.
The rise seems to have stemmed from more stringent rules from the Department for Education (DfE) implemented in 2013, which mean that headteachers are only able to authorise term-time absences in “exceptional circumstances”, for example to attend a funeral. Before this, if a pupil was deemed to have a record of good attendance, their headteacher could permit up to two weeks’ absence at their discretion.
Currently, local councils can issue a £60 fine for an unauthorised absence, and if the fine isn’t paid within 21 days it doubles to £120. If the fine remains unpaid after 28 days, parents can be prosecuted, which can result in a £2,500 fine, a community order or even a three month prison sentence. Despite this, the research suggests that, when it comes to weighing up the cost of these fines against the increased price of holidays during school breaks, parents are willing to risk being fined to avoid paying more for their time away.
The whole system is currently being called into question after father Jon Platt had his £120 fine overturned after taking his daughter on a family holiday to Florida during the school term. The decision is expected to be taken to the supreme court by Isle of Wight council, who issued the fine, but the case is seen by many to have set a precedent from which it will be very difficult to go back.
As things stand, however, if you have kids and take them out of school without authorisation, you can expect to face a fine of at least £60. Whilst we, of course, cannot condone ignoring the law to save a considerable sum on a holiday within term time, at the moment it looks like you won’t be alone if you choose to go down that route.