Parents in trouble as kids skip school

Growing numbers are being convicted of truancy offences, facing fines, and in some cases even being sent to jail, figures show ANL-150819-130127001
Growing numbers are being convicted of truancy offences, facing fines, and in some cases even being sent to jail, figures show ANL-150819-130127001

Growing numbers of Lincolnshire parents are being taken to court or handed fixed penalty fines because they allow their kids to skip school.

New figures released by the county education authority reveal 89 parents were prosecuted in 2014-15 – while the number was just 54 in 2013-14.

The 2014-15 academic year saw 860 fixed penalty notices slapped on parents – with the vast majority, 732, being for children taking unauthorised holidays during term-time.

Some 126 fixed penalties were for persistent absence and a further two for a child being in a public place while serving a period of exclusion.

In 2013-14, the fixed penalties were less than half the latest figure.

Some 333 fixed penalties were issued in that academic year with unauthorised holidays accounting for 217 – some 115 were for persistent absence while one was for a child being in a public place while serving an exclusion.

Fixed penalties sent to parents involve a £60 fine but that doubles if it’s not paid within 28 days.

The national picture for prosecutions and fixed penalties also shows a big rise in the number of parents getting caned over absences from school.

The hikes come in the wake of a major crackdown on truancy as well as the strict rules on term-time holidays introduced two years ago.

Jill Chandar-Nair, Lincolnshire County Council’s inclusion and attendance manager, said: “It’s important that children don’t miss out on their education and parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are at school.

“Fixed penalty notices are used by schools to improve school attendance.

“For those children with poor attendance, it is used as a last resort, once all other strategies have been exhausted by schools and there is still no improvement.

“Persistent absences in Lincolnshire schools continues to decrease which is evidence these strategies used by schools are working.

“In schools where they are using fines to address unauthorised term-time holidays, they are beginning to see a positive impact on their overall attendance figures.

“We continue to stress that absence from school at any age could have a significant impact on a child’s progress and attainment.”

Parenting group Netmums said that in some cases a fine or threat of jail can be enough to make a parent understand the seriousness of their child missing school, but warned that truancy is a complicated issue and families may need professional support rather than court action.

Rachel Burrows, from Netmums, said: “Long-term truancy is a complicated issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In many cases, the family may be in crisis or face issues such as a parent with mental health problems or addictions.

“In these cases, fines or jail won’t help as the mum or dad needs professional support to turn their lives around and be a better parent.”