Fines for taking children out of school: what are they for and how much will you pay?

Fines for taking children out of school face a national shake up

Aerial shot of a school playground with children playing on it illustrating Fines for taking children out of school
(Image credit: Getty / Future)

 

Fines for taking children out of school were first introduced in the UK in 2013 to crack down on term-time absences, and they're now undergoing a national shake-up. 

The introduction of school fines were a bid to stop parents from taking children out of school during term time. However, when schools break up for summer, the holiday prices spike, and parents may opt instead to take the kids during term time at the risk of potentially getting fined.

This is something that Suzie Hayman from the charity Family Lives, is concerned about. "I think slapping a fine on a parent doesn't necessarily get to the root of the problem and doesn't necessarily do anything about it," she said.

Since 2013 fines for taking children out of school have always been up to the council to fine £60 per parent for each child. A fact that meant there was no consistency. Some parents received fines, some didn’t. The new rules shake-up aims to end the 'postcode lottery' when it comes to school absences.

Fines for taking children out of school: what are they for and how much will you pay?

  • Taking kids out of school in term time
  • Late arrival to 10 sessions in one term
  • If a child is excluded but seen in public
  • More than five days unauthorised absence
  • Fines are up to £120 per parent for each child

For the past nine years taking kids out of school in term time has always carried with it the chance of a fine. Though it's common knowledge that if the headteacher gives permission it's okay and above board. 

Mum-of-three, Dionne tells us that the headteacher at her children's school is usually fair when signing off holiday days for her three, "Their attendance, on the whole, is good, so when I request a week off in term time it's usually granted."

Though, this kind of recognised behaviour from headteachers may become a thing of the past. Children's Commissioner for England, Rachel de Souza has publicly asked all schools and Trusts to 'do all that they can for 100% attendance'.

The two newest rules, as part of the government shake-up is, if a child is late to a school session (so on arrival or back from a break) more than 10 times in one term. And, if a child is excluded but seen out in public. The fine amount is £60 per parent for each child. Going up to £120 per parent for each child if not paid within 28 days of issue.

So a family of four could be looking at a minimum fine of £240 (before legal charges and fees are added). If not paid within 28 days, this could go up to £120 per parent for each child, which could be a potential total of £480 (before legal charges and fees are added). 

Can you get a fine for missing a day of school?

No, under current guidelines you would not get a fine for missing a day of school. Though these days are noted and added up across the term time. More than 5 unauthorised absences will see a fine incurred. According to the Gov.uk (opens in new tab) site the only two reasons your child can miss school are; 

  • They're too ill to go in
  • you have advance permission from the school

How much is a fine for taking a child out of school?

 At present your local council can give each parent a fine of £60, which rises to £120 each if not paid within 28 days. If you do not pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.

Check your local council rules.

How many unauthorised absences are allowed from school?

The Children's Commissioner Rachel de Souza is looking for 100% attendance. But the Gov.co.uk states more than 15 ‘sick days’ are reported to the local authorities. More than 5 days unauthorised absence in one term will be reported to your local authorities.  

Can I be fined for taking my kids on holiday in term time?

Every school is different. You may be able to get authorisation from the headteacher in ‘exceptional circumstances’ according to Gov.uk. Without this you will likely incur a charge of £60 per parent for each child missing school.

 While the plans will come as a blow to families on a budget who can't afford to take their kids on holiday during official school holidays, when prices spike, Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi says; “I know from the children’s commissioner’s work on school attendance that children themselves hugely value being in school with their teachers and their friends.

My job is to make sure that every child can get those school experiences. The plans set out today to reform how absence fines operate, alongside our Schools Bill currently going through Parliament, will improve consistency across the country and help tackle persistent absence.”

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