This is an extract from the agenda for the Council cabinet meeting this week.
Central Government recently tightened up the regulations allowing headteachers to exercise discretion when authorising parents to take their kids away on holiday in term time. Now RMBC have to decide how to enforce those rules locally and it looks like fines will be levied by the local authority on parents who cannot show they have exceptionally good reasons for taking their kids out of school.
The full document is here and reproduced in part below. As soon as I find out more I’ll post an update.
Amendments have been made to the Pupil Registration Regulations and the Penalty
Notices Regulations. These amendments came into force on 1st September 2013.
Amendments to the Pupil Registration Regulations remove references to ‘family
holiday’ and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.
The amendments make clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of
absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Head teachers should determine what circumstances are to be considered
‘exceptional’ reasons for taking a holiday in term time and Heads must also
determine the number of school days a child will be permitted to be away from
school if the leave is granted.
Under the provisions of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 it is possible that in
certain cases of unauthorised absence a fixed penalty notice may be issued to the
parents of compulsory school age children. These notices require an out of court
fine to be paid by parents of pupils who have unauthorised absence from school.
Amendments to Penalty Notice Regulations have reduced the timescales for paying
a fixed penalty notice fine. Parents must, from 1st September 2013, pay £60 within
21 days or £120 within 28 days of a penalty notice being issued.
After a period of consultation, with all schools including academies and the police,
every local authority is required to draw up and publish a code of conduct for issuing
fixed penalty notices for unauthorised absence from school. The code should set out
the criteria that will be used to trigger the use of a penalty notice. This should include
arrangements to issue penalty notices for unauthorised holidays.
DfE guidance requires that the local authority administers the FPN scheme for all
schools in its area, including academies and Free schools
This option would allow control and consistency for the local authority. Education
Welfare Service will need to conduct a review of volume and appropriateness of the
referrals to allow an assessment to be made with regard to Education Welfare
Service capacity at current levels. This option will allow the Education Welfare
Service to support all schools with the initial introduction of the FPN scheme.
Guidance does allow for schools and or the LA to issue penalty notices in line with
the agreed local code of conduct. However, whatever is agreed with regard to who
is permitted to issue the notices, the code of conduct is always administered by the
Local Authority .
CYPS will reserve the right to amend the code of conduct, transferring the
responsibility to issue FPNs to schools and individual Head Teachers. Under such
circumstances the Education Welfare Service will continue to monitor and administer
the FPN scheme for the local authority.
Regulations provide that the LA can retain revenue for any penalty notices issued to
cover the costs of issuing or enforcing notices or the costs of prosecuting parents
who do not pay.
Local Authorities should produce an auditor statement showing that income received
from penalty notices does not exceed enforcement.
Penalty Notices will only be issued for offences where the Local Authority is willing
and able to prosecute should the out of court fine remain unpaid.
FPNs can be issued to each ‘parent’ liable for a child’s attendance. Under the
provisions of the Education Act 1996 ‘parent’ means all natural parents ,whether they
are married or not, and includes any person who ,although not a natural parent , has
day to day care for a child . A person with whom the child lives and who looks after
the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child, is considered to be a
parent in education law.
Previously, Head Teachers could grant extended leave for more than ten school
days in exceptional circumstances. Such absences usually occur where a family
requests leave of absence to visit the family’s country of origin. In Rotherham such
requests are predominantly made for extended holiday periods to Pakistan.