Derbyshire County Council term holiday fines only 'in worst cases'

Image caption Many families complain holidays become unaffordable outside of term time

Fines for taking children on holiday in school term time are being largely abandoned by a local authority.

A surge in the £60 charges followed a change in government guidelines which said such absences were only permitted in "exceptional circumstances".

But the policy was thrown into confusion in May when the High Court ruled a single holiday did not break rules on regular attendance.

Now Derbyshire County Council has said only extreme cases will be fined.

In the 2014/2015 school year, Derbyshire County Council handed out nearly 3,200 of the £60 per child, per week fines - the fifth highest number in the country.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The High Court ruled Jon Platt's daughter's holiday had not breached rules

The High Court ruling, which is the subject of an appeal, left education authorities having to decide how to apply the existing rules and subsequently a number of court cases were abandoned.

Derbyshire County Council has confirmed its "interim arrangements", which state if attendance is above 94% - equivalent to missing 11 or 12 days - over the previous 12 months, only a warning letter will be issued.

Katherine Boulton, the council's service director for schools and learning, said: "We strongly recommend that pupils should not be taken out of school during term time.

"But there are always exceptional circumstances and the council believes these measures are fair and proportionate."

Craig Langman, of campaign group Parents Want A Say, said: "This is great news. We have heard of some parents who were facing action, checking on the progress of cases against them, only to be told their child's attendance now comes within acceptable limits.

"But this is the first instance I know of where a education authority has clearly stated new guidelines. It's a great step and we encourage others to follow suit."

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