Lancashire councils top school holiday fines list

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Media caption'I'm taking holidays in term-time,' says one Lancashire mother

Councils in Lancashire fined the highest number of parents in England for taking their children on holiday during school term-time in 2014/15.

Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council issued 4,800 penalty notices in the past academic year.

The Press Association figures also showed Bradford second with 3,319 and Redbridge third with 2,523.

The Government said it was a myth that missing school was harmless.

The figures gathered by Freedom of Information requests also showed Somerset with the largest percentage increase over the past year, giving out 1,034 fines in 2014/15 - up from 75 the previous year.

Councils said schools across the country had fined more parents as part of a Department for Education crackdown on term-time absences, although fining was left to an individual headteacher's discretion.

Lancashire county councillor Matthew Tomlinson said it had more schools than any other local authority in the country, so it was unsurprising it had handed out the most fines.

Top five fining areas:

  • Lancashire 4,800
  • Bradford 3,319
  • Redbridge 2,523
  • West Sussex 2,402
  • Derbyshire 2,354

He said: "Headteachers in Lancashire and across the country have always been able to grant leave during term-time in certain circumstances, including for holidays.

"However, in line with stricter government guidelines, headteachers are now only able to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances."

He added: "We encourage schools to work closely with parents to reduce unauthorised absences, and our aim throughout is not to punish parents."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Our evidence shows missing the equivalent of just one week a year from school can mean a child is significantly less likely to achieve good GCSE grades, having a lasting effect on their life chances."

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