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1,400 Midlands parents hit by school holiday fines

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Almost 1,400 parents in the Black Country and Staffordshire have been fined for taking their children on holiday during the school term.

In the Walsall borough alone more than 600 were hit with penalties during the last academic year, shelling out almost £40,000.

The new figures obtained by the Express & Star show parents are paying dearly for flouting government rules aimed at preventing children from missing school.

Under legislation, which came into force in September, headteachers are only allowed to grant term-time absences in exceptional circumstances.

Before this it was down to the headteacher's discretion whether or not they granted up to 10 days holiday or reported absent pupils to the local authority.

But many parents argue they have been priced out of going on holiday during peak times. The figures highlight contrasts between the neighbouring local authorities.

Parents who have been deemed to have flouted the rules are handed a penalty charge notice (PCN) of £60 per parent, per child, which increases to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

Court

Those who refuse to pay within 28 days can then face being taken to court for failing to ensure their child regularly goes to school, which can see fines of up to £2,500 or three months imprisonment.

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In the last academic year 663 parents with children at schools in Walsall have shelled out £39,650 in penalties, with the authority dishing out a further 403 charges so far this year.

Like Walsall Council, bosses at authorities in Dudley and Sandwell began issuing PCNs before the new laws came to pass.

In the academic year 2012 to 2013, Dudley Council imposed 226 fines on parents, raking in a total of £7, 380 into council coffers. Sandwell Council issued just 15 penalty notices in the same period, although two families were taken to court for non-payment.

The authority has issued nine PCNs in the current academic year, all settled without going to court.

Wolverhampton City Council has fined 48 parents since September. Staffordshire County Council has issued three PCNs since the start of the academic year.

l Postcode lottery – Page 6

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