Shropshire Star

Find out which Shropshire schools have seen most parents fined for children being absent

More than six hundred fines were issued to parents for unauthorised school absences in Shropshire last year, new figures show.

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The numbers obtained via a freedom of information request show that seven out of the top ten schools on the list for fines between January and December last year were in north Shropshire, with parents at one Oswestry school racking up 39 fines over the course of twelve months.

A total of 323 fines were issued in the north of the county, with 197 in southern areas and 105 in the Shrewsbury area, with the remainder issued in Shifnal.

In total, 77 schools issued fixed penalty noticed to parents for unauthorised absences, with a total of 643 issued throughout the calendar year.

The figures come ahead of a planned government hike in school absence fixed penalties, which will see fines rise from £60 to £80 from August this year.

All of the top six schools for fines issued were in the north of the county, with parents of children at The Meadows Primary (Oswestry), The Marches (Oswestry), Weston Rhyn Primary, Thomas Adams (Wem), St Martins School and Gobowen Primary receiving 167 fines for unauthorised absences between them.

However over the most recent complete academic year Shropshire schools fared better than the national average for absences, with overall rates at 7.1% versus 7.4% for all English state schools for 2022/23, according to government figures issued last month.

Nationally, the leading cause of absence is illness, with illness rate dropping to around 3.7% from its pandemic high of 4.4%, up from around 2% prior to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Persistent absence rates, defined in England as those children who have missed at least 10% of school or about one month across a school year, were at 20.1% for the county, versus a national average of 21.2%. The average percentage of persistently absent pupils in England has doubled since 2018/19.

Statistics released by the Department for Education also showed that last year holidays accounted for almost 90% of penalty notices issued by local authorities for unauthorised school absences.

This year, new Government rules mean fines for school absences are set to rise to £80 per incident, climbing to £160 if the fine is not paid within 21 days.

Under the new national rules, all schools will be required to consider a fine when a child has missed five days of school for unauthorised reasons.

Fines per parent are capped at two fines within any three-year period, after which parenting orders or prosecution can be considered. Prosecutions can result of fines up to £2,500.

Shropshire Council has been contacted for a comment.

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