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Parents Who Take Children out of School

by , 22nd Jul 2014

Would you risk a fine and further prosecution to facilitate and reduce the costs of a family holiday?

Should parents be punished for taking their children out of school during term time? Have you ever taken your child out of school during the academic year to facilitate a holiday? Have you ever lied to do so?

You may have already found yourself in this situation: claiming that your child was sick so that you could all attend an important family event or opting for a family holiday during your children’s school term times to reduce the costs. If so, bad news, you broke the law! Indeed, as parents you do not have an automatic right to take your children out of school but instead you have a duty to ensure that “your child gets a full-time education that meets their needs.”

This is set out in Part 1 Chapter 1 of the 1996 Education Act that reads: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable— (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” Of course, there are always exceptions where the school may grant permission to leave, such as a wedding abroad or family events planned in advance. It will remain up to the head teacher how many days your child can miss school A school may be influenced by various factors in its decisions whether or not to grant permission:

  • The length of the absence: the longer your child will miss school days, the less likely you be allowed to take them out.
  • The reason for the absence and its timing: if your child is about to start the new academic year in a new year group, class or school, or is about to take exams, then the request is likely to be refused.

If the permission is declined, it is up to you as parents to go ahead or not and take your children out anyways but be aware that legal action may be enforced.

Would you risk a punishment for a good holiday deal?

kid-in-schoolYou may be subject to a Parenting Order (go to parenting classes and follow the court’s advice), an Education Supervision Order (a supervisor will be appointed to help you get your child into education), a School Attendance Order (you have 15 days to prove that your child is schooled, it not you may be prosecuted), a Penalty Notice (£60 before 21 days, up to £120 if paid after and within 28 days) and finally you may be prosecuted with a fine of £2,500, community order or up to 3 months in jail.

New Research by Nationwide Building Society has also shown that despite penalties and prosecutions, more than a third (36 per cent) of parents take their children out of school to get a good deal on holiday. Among those, one in five (19 per cent) has lied about it and instead told the school their child was sick.

These controversial rules were championed by former Education Secretary in the UK, Michael Gove, who ended a policy that allowed schools to authorize up to 10 days holiday a year to families in “special circumstances.” Nicky Morgan, new Education Secretary recently said she would maintain a zero-tolerance policy on holidays during term times and will keep the rules that punish parents.

For every day or half-day that a child misses; It does affect their education,” she said. “From the prime minister downwards, we have made it clear that being in school during term time is that best place for children to be. I’m really clear that will continue.

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Have Your Say: Does this seem fair?

So would you risk a fine and further prosecution to facilitate and reduce the costs of a family holiday? Does this seem fair? Should parents who make sure their child attends school and has good results be punished just for wanting to enjoy a holiday and lessen costs? Do these measures reflect actual “good/ bad” parenting or is it more of a political problem between schools, unions and the government?

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