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News - 16 January 2014

Couple fined for term time holiday

A couple who took their three children on holiday at the end of September 2013 have been ordered by magistrates to pay £1,000 in costs and fines.

They originally refused to pay a £360 fine. It doubled after they failed to pay within 21 days.

The father said that he had booked the holiday a year before the law changed in September 2013, and he told magistrates he decided to take a family holiday because of problems with his eldest daughter, whose behaviour and school attendance had deteriorated.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS and an active school governor comments:
“Parents in England and Wales have a legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school (unless they have opted to home-educate them). If they fail to do so, they are committing an offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996. Parents can put in requests for term-time holidays, but these requests are granted or refused entirely at the head teacher's discretion and are not a parental right.”

Heads in England were previously able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in "special circumstances". But since 1 September 2013, they have no longer been able to grant any absence in term time except under "exceptional circumstances".

A spokesman for The Department for Education (DfE) said
"Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect, and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent. Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday, because this is a criminal offence and when doing so they are always risking prosecution.”

If you need any help and advice with Charities or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail: abds@netaccountants.net

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