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Parents’ £50,000 bill for children skipping school
4:10pm Monday 7th October 2013 in Local News
PARENTS across Essex paid more than £50,000 in fines in three years for their children’s unauthorised absences from school.
The number of offences increased by more than a third in 2012/13, compared with the previous school year.
Schools can seek penalty notices, if children are taken out of school for more than five days, or during key exam periods.
A total of 47 penalty notices were handed out at Basildon Academies last year.
It was the worst in the past three years for penalties, with 573 notices across Essex. This compares with 428 notices in 2011/12 and 445 in 2010/11. In 2012/13, £27,420 was collected by the county council in fines, although 163 of the 573 penalties remain unpaid.
Parents taking children out of school on holidays during term time accounted for 345 of the fines and225penalties were for truancy.
Three were for other reasons.
An Essex County Council spokesman said: “Parents have a legal duty to ensure regular school attendance for their children who are registered at a school.
“Essex County Council is committed to ensuring children receive a suitable education and issues penalty notices and uses legal processes where appropriate to achieve this aim.
“Where there is concern for a child’s attendance, schools will work with the family to address the cause of the absence. If this is not successful and the absences are not authorised by the school, the matter may be referred to the council’s education welfare service, which will arrange a meeting between the school and family.”
The penalty notice is £60, if paid within 21 days, but rises to £120 after that. If a penalty notice is issued and not paid within 28 days, the parent could face prosecution.
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