184 fines for taking children on holiday in term time

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Parents in Burnley have been issued with 184 fixed penalty notices since September last year for taking their children on holiday in term time.

The figures, show an increase of 117 on the previous year when just 67 parents were issued with notices. But Burnley fairs better than both Pendle and Hyndburn where 337 and 263 notices respectively have been issued so far this year.

The increase is due to new Government legislation which took effect from September 2013 and states headteachers must only authorise time off school in exceptional circumstances.

Prior to the new rules, heads were able to grant leave during term time in certain instances, including for holidays.

The threshold for penalty notices is 10 half-day sessions of unauthorised absence in one term, or 20 in two consecutive terms.

The fine is £60, if paid within 21 days, increasing to £120 if paid within 28 days. Money from fines is reinvested in the local authority’s education budget.

County Coun. Matthew Tomlinson, Cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “These are national guidelines which were brought in by the Department for Education last September and they strictly limit the circumstances in which schools can grant holiday leave.

“The decision whether to issue a penalty notice rests with the headteacher of each school, and the role of the county council is purely to provide support and administration.

“I’d ask parents to support their school staff and governors by making good attendance their first priority.

“Studies have shown that attainment is linked to attendance – if children miss out on school, they miss out on learning.”