Telford Council issues hundreds of fines over school attendance
A council says it is continually improving school attendance after newly-released figures revealed it had issued almost double the national average of fines.
Telford & Wrekin Council issued 606 fines across the 2016/17 school year. It gave out 21.69 penalties per 1,000 pupils – nearly double the national average of 12.
The figures are higher than for Shropshire Council, which issued 241 fines, and Powys Council, which issued only 85.
But Telford & Wrekin Council said overall attendance had improved over the last year and was now at least in line with national averages.
Russell Griffin, a spokesman for the council, said: “The council acts on behalf of schools in terms of issuing fines when parents take their child out of school on a holiday.
“Locally we take a firm and consistent approach to this and this is part of a proactive approach taken by both schools and the council to continually improve school attendance.
“As a result, Telford and Wrekin’s overall attendance has improved and is now at least in line with national averages and we have a significant number of schools whose attendance is above national average. It is our belief that children need to attend school in order to achieve their best potential.”
Shropshire Council said it was encouraging that there had been a reduction in the number of requests for holidays in term time.
Christine Kerry, Shropshire Council’s education access service manager, said: “Shropshire schools and Shropshire Council continue to work in line with government policy and adhere to current legislation regarding leave of absence during term time.
“The attendance of pupils in Shropshire is recognised as being consistently high and this is due to parents, carers, schools and the council working together to ensure all pupils are able to access the education to which they are entitled.
Following work undertaken by Shropshire Council and schools over a number of years to raise awareness of how children are disadvantaged by unnecessary absence from school, the majority of parents and carers do recognise this and support the DfE policy by ensuring their children attend school on a regular basis.”It is encouraging that over time, there has been a significant reduction in the number of requests for holidays in term time and consequently fewer Penalty Notices issued.”Parents across England and Wales were fined £24 million across that year.
Between them, 155 local authorities in England and Wales issued about 400,000 penalties over three years.
On average, 12 penalties were issued per 1,000 children - whether for truancy or for parents taking children away on holiday during term time.