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Sussex parents fined £97k for term time holidays
5:40am Tuesday 28th January 2014 in News
Sussex parents were fined a total of £97,295 for taking their children on holiday during school term time last year.
They were issued with more than 2,300 fixed penalty notices for taking their children on breaks when they should have been in school.
Holidaying parents in East Sussex were issued with 1,234 penalty notices worth at least £60 each, forking out a total of £54,555.
West Sussex parents were also fined at least £60 each, amounting to a total of £37,730 spanning 973 fixed penalty notices.
Brighton and Hove City Council said it issued 97 notices worth at least £60 each, collecting £5,010 in revenue.
Parents were charged if their child was absent for five consecutive days or more. And some had to pay more than the standard £60 rate if they paid late.
Christine Terrey, headteacher at Harbour Primary School in Newhaven, said she sympathised with parents who were “put in a position” by tour operators.
She said: “I had one mother call the school every day from a beach in Spain to tell me her child was ill – but we soon found out she was in fact abroad.
“Ultimately we need every child to be in school every single day they are required to be.
“But I sympathise that families also need a holiday together. They are put in a position by tour operators.
“Parents are sometimes willing to take the fine of £60 per child as opposed to paying £400 more for the cost of taking a break during school holidays.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesman said the authority also sympathised with parents.
He added: “But that’s an issue holiday companies should resolve – not schools.
“Our policy is fair and transparent and in line with what the Government wants and what legislation allows to happen. Parents are only fined if they take five consecutive days or more of unauthorised absence.
“The law does not grant parents an automatic right to take their child out of school during term time, and our policy is that headteachers should only allow them to do so in exceptional circumstances.
“Any absence from school disrupts a child’s learning and every day matters.”
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