Council uphold fines for term time holidays despite calendar changes

Nottinghamshire County Council will continue to fine parents taking children out of school on unauthorised holidays in 2019-20.
Nottinghamshire County Council will continue to fine parents taking children out of school on unauthorised holidays in 2019-20.

A move to suspend fines for parents taking children on unauthorised holidays during school term time next year has been rejected by Nottinghamshire County Council.

A motion was put before a meeting of the full council on Thursday, January 18, for a temporary reduction or suspension of the penalty regime for 2019-20.

Councillor Samantha Deakin said the current policy penalised families on low incomes.

Councillor Samantha Deakin said the current policy penalised families on low incomes.

Its was proposed by the Ashfield Independents group, who said the council’s decision to implement shorter summer holidays for schools from next year could result in parents and carers mistakenly incurring fines.

However Councillor Samantha Deakin, of Sutton Central & East, said there were broader motivations: “I am the face of parents who genuinely struggle to take their kids away. We’ve not had a holiday for almost ten years.

“I don’t want to get fined so we make do with days out. I’m angry at holiday companies who rip people off. I’m angry schools are fining parents.”

Under the new system, summer holidays will be cut to five weeks, and the October half-term extended to two.

Councillor Tracey Taylor, of Misterton, backed the policy to ensure children and teachers can get the best educational outcomes.

Councillor Tracey Taylor, of Misterton, backed the policy to ensure children and teachers can get the best educational outcomes.

In rejecting the motion, the council said it would send the ‘wrong message to parents’.

Councillor Tracey Taylor, who represents Misterton and sits on the children and young people’s committee, said: “The motion suggested it was meant to reduce confusion, but it would only have added to it if we fine one year, then don’t, then start again.

“It is important parents help children get the best from their education, without interruption. Time in school is precious to every pupil and family, but also to group learning and teachers.”

The number of fines issued to parents across the county for taking unauthorised holidays rose from 1,399 in the summer term of 2016 to 2,419 in the same period of 2017.

The penalty can be up to £120 for each parent/carer of each child absent, or £2,500 if the case goes to court.

The UK supreme court upheld the nationwide ban on term time holidays in a landmark case last year.