Fines for School Absences in England are Set to Increase by £20

From September, fines for parents who take their children out of school without permission will increase across England. The minimum fine will rise from £60 to £80 per parent as part of the government’s effort to restore attendance to pre-pandemic levels.

According to one school, a significant portion of unauthorised absences during term time were due to family holidays. The head teachers’ union expressed the necessity of fines to prevent disruption in schools.

Currently, fines vary among local authorities, with some issuing none while others issue thousands in penalties annually. To create a more consistent approach, new guidelines recommend considering fines after a child misses five days of school without the head teacher’s permission. Failure to pay within 21 days will result in the fine doubling.

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan stated that most fines are for unauthorised term-time holidays. While families with absent children should be offered support, fines remain an important tool to discourage unauthorised absences.

However, this tougher stance may be contentious among parents who struggle to afford holidays or feel disillusioned with the school system.

Last year, single mother Anusha Iyer, residing in Halifax, was fined after she took her son out of his Year 4 class due to her elderly father falling ill in India.

Despite informing the school in advance about their urgent need to travel, she was still required to pay the fine upon their return. Despite her efforts to appeal the decision, she eventually gave up, feeling frustrated and helpless.

Iyer emphasized the importance of prioritizing family, particularly when they are elderly and in fragile health. She expressed frustration at the inflexibility of the system, noting that illnesses do not adhere to school holiday schedules.

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