Parents of Lincolnshire children fined almost £135k for unauthorised school absences last year
Parents coughed up a whopping £134,880 in fines last academic year for taking their children out of Lincolnshire schools without permission.
Statistics show 2,753 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were handed out to parents between September 2018 and July 2019 for unauthorised leave.
There were also 330 fines for ‘general unauthorised absence/truancy’ which includes absence condoned by parents.
The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, show the numbers have increased from the previous year when there were 1,955 fines for unauthorised leave and 284 for truancy. The statistics have not been broken down by district.
By law parents have to get permission from the head teacher if they want to take a child out of school during term time.
It is then up to him or her how many days the pupil can be away from school if leave is granted.
Lincolnshire County Council says the money generated through FPNs is used to support schools in managing attendance.
Matthew Clayton, Interim Head of Education Support, said: "Ensuring all children in the county receive a good education is a priority for schools and the local authority. If a child is not in school, they will miss out on learning and risk falling behind. So it is vitally important that unauthorised absence is addressed. Schools only use these fines as a last resort, when all other options have been exhausted.”
He added: "The process for issuing fixed penalty notices is now more established than it was one or two years ago. It is the fact that schools are now more familiar with the process and apply it more consistently that has largely contributed to the increase in the number of fines being issued."
Fines are set nationally by the government. The current penalty is £60 per parent, per child, rising to £120 if not paid within 21 days.
Last year 418 parents failed to pay their fines within the time period and 149 were taken to court for non-payment.
* We revealed at the weekend that parents in Rutland were issued with 120 fines for unauthorised school absences last academic year. The county council collected a total of £6,300 as a result.
More by this authorSteve Creswell