Over 3,000 fined for school-time holidays

Parents have been fied for taking their children out of school to go on holiday
Parents have been fied for taking their children out of school to go on holiday

More than 3,000 Doncaster parents have been fined for taking their children out of school during term time in the last year.

A total of 3,378 mums and dads were handed fines by the council for unauthorised absences between 2014/2015.

Tougher rules brought in by the Department for Education two years ago mean headteachers can only approve holidays in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Defiant Tim Mettam, who has previously been fined more than £300 for taking his children on holiday in school time, insists he would do it again.

The 43-year-old, and wife Karen, aged 44, took their children, Jamie, 14, Daniel, 13 and Joshua, 12, all pupils at Balby Carr Community Academy, to visit family in Florida for Christmas – and returned home to learn they had been fined £360.

The painter and decorator, from Balby, said: “We took our children out of school for a week and sent a letter in September explaining the nature of the time away, but that got rejected.

“The children had not seen their uncle for a while, there had been a close family death and also serious illness to a close family member so the children really needed time away, but this was not seen a good enough reason.

“We checked the cost of flights to get the children back in time for school and the cost was £10,300 for two weeks away. We paid £3,000 for three weeks and got fined per child per parent at a cost of £360. I appealed against the decision but that got rejected too and I am currently paying the fine over five months. The school blamed the council, the council blamed the school, I feel it’s just another way to bring in more money for the council.

“My children had 100 per cent attendance before they went, and they have had it since. They all went to after schools clubs to catch up on missed work and have excelled in their work.”

Parents who do not have a school’s permission for their child’s absence face a maximum fine of £60 per pupil, per parent. Those who refuse to pay can face court action, a fine of up to £2,500 and a possible jail sentence of up to three months.

Jo Moxon, interim director of learning and opportunities for children and young people, said: “Doncaster Council’s role is to administer the fines system in accordance with rules laid down by central government. Funds are reinvested in improving attendance.”

A spokesman for the school was unavailable for comment.