Parents faced with fines for taking children on holiday in school term time have been thrown a lifeline after it emerged Leeds City Council would NOT impose fines for up to five days absence per term.
The revelation appears to defy Government plans to introduce a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to unauthorised absences.
The council has issued guidance to its schools outlining its stance on fines.
But when the YEP contacted the Department for Education, it appeared to be unaware of the council’s position and said local authorities could interpret the rules as they saw fit.
Councillor Judith Blake, executive member for childrens’ services, told the YEP she believed trying to prosecute parents for taking children out for less than five days would be pointless.
She said: “In Leeds, fines will not be issued for less than five days absence in a term/12-week period. This can be a block of five days, or five separate days across the period.”
The news was welcomed today by parents, one of whom said: “At least this brings some kind of common sense to the situation.
“From the letters we received it looked as though parents would be fined up to £120 per parent for taking their children out of school for just one day.”
Council chiefs stressed however that any unauthorised absence would still be vigorously challenged and all absences would be closely monitored.
A DfE spokesperson said: “Children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.
“That is why we have encouraged schools to tackle poor attendance earlier, and toughened the law on term time holidays. We have also increased the amount parents can be fined for unauthorised absences and cut the amount of time they have to pay.
“Councils set the codes of conduct on issuing penalty notices. We expect these to be robust and send a clear message to parents of the importance of their child’s regular attendance at school.”