Parents fined for taking children out of school

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Parents face a postcode lottery in their chance of being fined for taking children on holiday during term time.

There has been more than 3,400 penalty notices issued in the last academic year alone as schools are urged to follow tougher Government guidelines.

Since the rules were changed two years ago to only allow absences in exceptional circumstances the numbers of fines issued in Leeds has soared.

In 2012/13 - before the guidelines changed - there were 105 parents fined across the city for taking pupils out of school without permission. Under the previous system schools could allows parents up to ten days .

In the last academic year this had risen to 3,435 fines of £60.

The schools which have had the most parents fined include Leeds West Academy where 89 were issued, Woodkirk Academy in Tingley, where 86 were issued and East Ardsley Primary where 84 were issued - more than any other primary.

However there were 90 schools which did not issue any fines in the same period.

Leeds City Council is now said to be in talks with schools about the disparity in the number of penalty notices being issued.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s executive member responsible for children and families said: “We are aware there is some inconsistency in how different schools implement the government’s legislation on term time holidays, so we are working with head teachers to ensure they understand the legislation and are implementing it in the correct way.

“We have reviewed our code of conduct around this legislation and are sharing this with head teachers to remind them of their responsibilities and to ensure consistency across the city. We believe that the best place for children to be during term time is in school and continue to support schools to ensure parents understand the importance of ensuring their children attend school regularly. Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in primary and secondary school, and we have always encouraged parents to think twice before booking holidays during term time.”

Four of the five schools with the most fines issued were academies. The actual fines are all issued by the council and the money is then retained by the local authority to cover the cost of administering the penalty notice scheme and to cover the cost of prosecuting parents.

The postcode lottery: Where were Morley parents were fined?

Asquith Primary 9

Birchfield Primary 8

Blackgates 0

Bruntcliffe High 47

Churwell Primary <6

Drighlington Primary 63

East Ardsley 84

Fountain Primary 0

Gildersome Primary 55

Hill Top Primary 6

Leeds South Academy 71

Morley Academy 38

Morley Newlands Primary <6

Morley Victoria Primary 0

Rodillian Academy 5

Ruth Gorse Academy <6

Seven Hills Primary 19

St Francis Catholic Primary Morley 0

St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary 6

Thorpe Primary 12

Woodkirk Academy 86