Fined mother says school holiday policy is "pathetic"

Katie Michael with Demi, Mercedes, Jake and Chelsea. DC5501P2

Katie Michael with Demi, Mercedes, Jake and Chelsea. DC5501P2

First published in News Salisbury Journal: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A MOTHER of four who was fined for taking her children out of school in the last week of term has described it as “pathetic” that parents can be fined for taking their children on holiday in term time.

Katie Michael, who has three children at Woodlands Primary School, was fined £180 for taking her family to Weymouth on holiday – despite her children having an exemplary attendance record for the rest of the year.

She said: “I went to the headteacher asking for a holiday form but was told that I was not allowed one.

“I decided to take them out of school anyway and the cost of the holiday was still half the price even with the fine.”

As the Journal reported last week, 960 parents were fined in Wiltshire last year for taking their children out of school in term time.

That was a six per cent increase on the previous year and follows a tightening up of the rules by the Department of Education.

Headteachers are now only allowed to grant term time absence in “exceptional circumstances”.

Parents are fined £120 a week for each child, although this is reduced to £60 if they pay within 21 days.

The Department of Education says school attendance is compulsory and is essential for academic success.

“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,” said a spokesman.

But Ms Michael is calling for a change of policy and says family holidays are important but often too expensive during the school holidays.

“The week we went was the last week of term after the SATS, so my daughter had already sat her tests,”

she said.

“They should be allowed to go on holiday for at least one week a year especially if it is the last week of term when all they do is watch DVDs.

“All children need a holiday.”

In the week that Prime Minister David Cameron said Government policies should pass a “family test”, a Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “Every day in a child’s education is important and we are working with headteachers to follow Government guidance regarding unauthorised term-time absence.”

Comments (3)

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7:47pm Thu 21 Aug 14

rattajack says...

I wholeheartedly agree with this Mum. Are the Government going to impose their will on everything Parents can or cannot do for their children?
Not all Parents can get time off during the school holidays as they have to work, and many are only on minimum wage. Have the Council, Government and Education officers not got a clue to how much more it costs during August to book a holiday..... It is still cheaper to pay a fine than for 4 children than pay the going rate for HIGH season holidays....
I wholeheartedly agree with this Mum. Are the Government going to impose their will on everything Parents can or cannot do for their children? Not all Parents can get time off during the school holidays as they have to work, and many are only on minimum wage. Have the Council, Government and Education officers not got a clue to how much more it costs during August to book a holiday..... It is still cheaper to pay a fine than for 4 children than pay the going rate for HIGH season holidays.... rattajack
  • Score: 0

5:32pm Fri 22 Aug 14

Palamountain says...

The first week of the term in many ways is the most important. Most subjects set up the whole terms work. or at least set the tone for the rest of the term during the first week. Children would be better off missing the last week of term when its jam on cake time . Unless its a super efficient school which moves up all the children on to their next class to allow incoming pupils to get a taster of their new school. Then the only pupils who could get away with taking time off school for the last week wold be the leavers. School is an unpaid work place and should be treated as such
The first week of the term in many ways is the most important. Most subjects set up the whole terms work. or at least set the tone for the rest of the term during the first week. Children would be better off missing the last week of term when its jam on cake time . Unless its a super efficient school which moves up all the children on to their next class to allow incoming pupils to get a taster of their new school. Then the only pupils who could get away with taking time off school for the last week wold be the leavers. School is an unpaid work place and should be treated as such Palamountain
  • Score: 5

9:42am Tue 26 Aug 14

hillyanne says...

It's the tourist industry charging the earth during August that's to blame.Not the school holiday policy!
It's the tourist industry charging the earth during August that's to blame.Not the school holiday policy! hillyanne
  • Score: 5

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