Fines against school parents defended

Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'County Hall
Photo Ian Robinson'Preston landmarks'County Hall
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The authority which oversees schools in Wyre and Fylde has defended its ranking as having fined the most parents in the country for taking children out of school in term time.

Lancashire County Council last year fined more than 3,100 parents for allowing their children to take time off during the school year, up 176 per cent compared to the previous year.

By comparison Blackpool Council fined 264 parents in the same time period.

But education bosses have said their high figures are proportionate to the hundreds of schools it runs, as one of the biggest authorities in the country, with around 147,000 pupils in the borough’s maintained schools.

County Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “As one of the biggest councils in the country, with more schools than any other local authority, it stands to reason that we will be near the top of any kind of table based on numbers.

“These are national regulations which were brought in by the Department for Education last September, which headteachers must follow.

“These regulations place very strict limits on the circumstances in which children can be taken out of school.”

In the academic year 2012-2013 1,125 penalty notices were served, with £49,920 of fines collected.

This rose to 3,106 penalty notices served in 2013-2014 (up to July 21), collecting £129,900 of fines.

Council bosses have said this money is reinvested in its education budget but they hope the numbers will soon drop.

Coun Tomlinson added: “Hopefully things will settle as parents get used to the new government rules.”

Parents face court summonses and surcharges in addition to the penalty notices, if they fail to comply with rules.