More North Somerset parents fined for taking children out of school for holidays
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Hundreds of parents who took their children out of school to go on holiday have been fined.
In 2016/17, North Somerset Council issued 862 penalty notices to parents – 708 of which were for unauthorised family holidays during term-time.
This was a 70 per cent increase on the number of notices issued the previous year, and the council raised £39,480 through 645 fines paid by parents.
A council spokesman said: “It is the headteacher’s decision to use their discretion whether to authorise term-time holidays for exceptional circumstances.
“The school requests penalty notices be issued by us – in line with our code of conduct which states a penalty notice can be issued for 10 or more unauthorised sessions (a session is a morning or afternoon registration) within a six-month period.
“We want children and young people in North Somerset to benefit from the fantastic education opportunities available.
“They can only do this if they are in school.”
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As schools have joined up to multi-academy trusts, many of them have changed their attendance policies to not authorise term-time absences, in line with Government guidance.
The fines are £60 if paid within 21 days, but rise to £120 within 28 days.
Last year, 13 cases were taken to North Somerset Courthouse for non-payment. These can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
The council withdrew 117 cases where the fine was not paid within 28 days but it chose not to bring about legal proceedings.
The money raised in fines goes into the education welfare service budget to operate and enforce the penalty notice scheme.
North Somerset has a higher rate of fines than the national average, with 31 notices issued for every 1,000 pupils, compared to 22 for England.
The council issued 506 penalty notices in 2015/16, 661 the year before, and 426 in 2013/14.
In 2012/13 it handed out just 130 penalty notices.
Fewer penalty notices were handed out by neighbouring Somerset County Council in 2016/17 than the previous year, a 38 per cent drop.
In total, parents paid 342 fines, 43 per cent of which were for children being taken on unauthorised holidays during term-time.