Jail threat for Cambridgeshire parents who took child out of school for holidays
The parents of a Cambridgeshire pupil have been given a four-week suspended sentence for taking their child out of school three times for holidays.
Cambridgeshire County Council had previously issued penalty notice fines for the two previous occasions in 2017 and 2018, but the parents failed to pay, resulting in a court summons and fines including costs totalling £440 for the first offence and £1,752 for the second offence.
Summons were issued for the hearing on April 25 and the previous convictions taken into account by magistrates, who issued the suspended sentence with a requirement for the parents, from near Ely, to work with the Probation Service over the next 12 months and complete 20 days of RAR (Rehabilitation Activity Requirement). They were also ordered to pay court costs of £165 each.
Magistrates warned the parents that should they take the child on another term-time holiday, the suspended prison sentence was likely to be activated and they would be jailed for four weeks.
They said the government was trying to discourage school heads from authorising term-time absences and that the parents should have understood that taking their children out of school during term time was a serious matter.
Jonathan Lewis, the county council's service director for education, said: “The local authority firmly believes that for pupils to progress and achieve their full potential they need to have a good level of school attendance.
“Regular school attendance gives your child the best possible start in life from the time they start in reception. Children who frequently miss school are far more likely to fall behind with their work across the curriculum, and thus fail to reach their true potential.”
In Cambridgeshire, the attendance data for the academic year 2016/2017 shows there were 3,201 primary school aged pupils and 3,217 secondary school aged pupils who were persistently absent from school - this means they attended school less than 90% per cent of the time.
To address this all schools in the county have put in place attendance management strategies and will make a referral to the county council when a child's attendance fails to improve.