School truancy fines and term-time holidays crackdown proposed by London adviser

09:31 16 April 2012

Parents could lose money from their child benefit if they fail to pay fines for their children being truant from school.

Behaviour tsar Charles Taylor, who has worked in some of London’s toughest schools, wants penalties for parents who do not ensure their children attend school to be increased.

The proposal would mean the penalties would have more of a positive effect on ensuring all pupils attend school regularly, says Mr Taylor who was commissioned by education secretary Michael Gove to look at the issue of school attendance in the wake of the riots last year.

Announcing his findings today, he will say: “We know that some parents simply allow their children to miss lessons and then refuse to pay the fine. It means the penalty has no effect, and children continue to lose vital days of education they can never recover.

“Recouping the fines through child benefit, along with other changes to the overall system, will strengthen and simplify the system. It would give headteachers the backing they need in getting parents to play their part.”

At the moment if a headteacher decides to impose a fine for truancy, the parent has 28 days to pay £50. If they fail, then it is doubled.

Mr Taylor wants the initial fine increased to £60, doubling to £120 if it is unpaid after 28 days.

If unpaid, the money would be taken automatically from child benefit rather than schools going through the long-winded process of court action.

Parents who do not receive child benefit and fail to pay fines would have the money recovered through county courts.

Mr Taylor is also expected to recommend the government should toughen up rules around term-time holidays.

The latest figures show that these remain a major reason for absence and in 2010/11 increased to 9.5 per cent of overall absence, from 9.3 per cent the previous year.

If children are taken away for a two-week holiday every year and have an average number of days off for sickness and appointments, then by the time they leave at 16 they will have missed an entire year of their schooling.

Mr Taylor will say that headteachers should continue to use discretion and that the relevant regulations should be strengthened to make clear that schools should only give permission for where there are exceptional circumstances.

He will also call for a crackdown on primary school absence to make sure it is not a problem later on in life.

He will say: “The earlier schools address poor attendance patterns, the less likely it is that they will become a long-term issue.

“The best primary schools realise this and take a rigorous approach to poor attendance from the very start of school life.”

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

After weeks of challenges and cringeworthy boardroom showdowns, Lord Sugar made a decision – and Twitter was watching.

Read more

And the runner-up was OK about losing out to the “very credible” winner.

Read more

And we were all invited to the happy couple’s big day!

Read more

Promoted content

We've got a great selection of Secret Santa presents and stocking fillers for under a tenner...  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Office Secret Santa: it’s a Christmas ritual that everyone dreads, but no-one wants to seem like a Scrooge by saying no. Never fear, London24 is here to make buying gifts for Dave in Accounts simple and stress-free, with a selection of presents for under a tenner

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

After weeks of challenges and cringeworthy boardroom showdowns, Lord Sugar made a decision – and Twitter was watching.

And we were all invited to the happy couple’s big day!

And they have a role to play in saving their species.

TOP Stories

Yesterday, 18:22
Eragon the chihuahua has been reunited with his owner for Christmas after being found in a Santa sack miles away from his home (Picture: RSPCA)

A tiny chihuahua from London has been reunited with his owner for Christmas after being found left in a Santa sack on a church porch all the way in Hertfordshire.

Yesterday, 18:02
A murder investigation was launched after police were called to reports of a man stabbed at Lumley Flats in Pimlico Road (Picture: Google Streetview)

A 65-year-old woman has been bailed after being arrested on suspicion of murder following the fatal stabbing of a man at a flat in Pimlico.

Yesterday, 19:08
Chloe Williams  has not been seen since 3.30pm on Saturday, December 21 after leaving her home in Chingford (Picture: Metropolitan Police)

Police are appealing for information on the whereabouts of a missing 20-year-old woman from Chingford who said she was going to a friend’s house and has not been since.

London Bloggers

Thursday, November 27, 2014
The main room at the Museum of Comedy (Pic: Steve Ullathorne)

This week I visited the Museum of Comedy located at the corner of Museum Street and Bloomsbury Way in the crypt under St George’s Church.

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Bird Lovegod

I genuinely and honestly have only a slight problem when it comes to buying domain names.

Friday, November 14, 2014
Bird says back up your data

What happened after a friend of mine lost basically everything he’d created in the last 5 years: