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Crackdown on parents taking Brighton and Hove pupils on term-time holidays
Parents who jeopardise their children’s education by taking them out of school for term-time holidays are to be targeted in a council crackdown.
One in ten secondary school pupils in Brighton and Hove miss more than a month of school each year without permission.
Only a third of those children pass five GCSEs including English and maths at grades A* to C, the Government benchmark.
Now the council has promised to fine parents who force their children to miss lessons to suit their holiday timetable by travelling abroad when breaks are cheaper.
In the last school year the local authority handed out 74 fines to parents, more than double the total for the two previous years.
Statistics reveal 9.8% of secondary school pupils in the city were deemed to be “persistent” in absenteeism – taking the equivalent of at least a month off over a year – compared to the national average of 8.4%.
The figures include pupils with absence for illness, those absent for a holiday and those absent without a valid reason.
Councillor Andrew Wealls, the Conservative spokesman on the council’s children and young people’s committee, said: “I was shocked to see that almost 10% have been taking so much time off.
“There’s a significant issue here and we need to do more work.
“I am very disappointed when parents do take their children out of school during term time.
“It sets a bad example to other children.
“We need to do more work on truancy in general and understanding the specific causes.”
He called on governors to challenge schools over the problem of persistent absenteeism.
William Deighan, the headteacher at Varndean School in Balfour Road, said: “Research shows lack of attendance takes its toll on students’ grades.
“If you’re not turning up for school for a month a year it is going to have an effect on your learning.”
A council spokeswoman said: “If parents do take their child out of school this can be referred to us to consider whether to issue the parents with a fixed penalty notice which can result in parents being fined up to £120, per parent, for each child.
“Failure to pay the fine may result in us prosecuting parents for non attendance which can result in a fine up to £1,000 for each parent.”
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