Massive increase in parents being fined or prosecuted in Leeds over children's school absence

THERE have been a big increase in the number of Leeds parents fined for their children being absent from school over the last four years, following a Government crackdown.

New figures show the number of fines issued in the city has risen from 266 in 2011/12 to 3,322 in the 2014/15 academic year.

The increase follows the Government changing guidelines to ask schools to only approve term-time absences in “exceptional circumstances”.

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Schools decide whether to issue fines which are administered by councils.

The number of prosecutions in Leeds has risen even more dramatically, according to new Department for Education figures.

Tables show that while there was just five prosecutions of parents in Leeds in 2011/12 by last year this had risen to 575.

Across Yorkshire the number of fines issued has increased from 4,803 in 2011/12 to 25,233 in 2014/15.

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The Department for Education figures show that there has also been a sharp increase in the number of prosecutions in Yorkshire and nationally over the last four years.

There was 611 prosecutions in the region in 2011/12 compared with 2,181 in 2014/15. Nationally figures show there 15,283 prosecutions last year compared with 6,361 in 2011/12

The statistics also reveal that nationally more than 150,000 fines were issued to mothers and fathers in 2014/15 for unauthorised absence – more than quadruple the numbers in 2010/11. The figures come the week after Isle of Wight Council confirmed it was to ask the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against a High Court judgment in favour of a father who overturned a fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term time.

A DfE spokesman said: “The rules are perfectly clear – children should not be taken out of school without good reason. That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.

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“The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances – vindicating our strong stance on attendance.”

Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts said: “Missing lots of school has a negative impact on children’s learning, and is disruptive for teachers as well.

“However, new rules mean even very short trips with genuine educational value, or for really important family events, are being refused – or the parents fined.”