No change to fining parents for absences

Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
Peterborough City Council news from the Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
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Parents will continue to be fined for taking their children on term-time holidays despite a recent High Court ruling in favour of a father.

Peterborough City Council will not alter its policy of fining each parent of an absent child £60 after taking legal advice over the judgement.

It follows magistrates ruling in May that Jon Platt should not have been fined by Isle of Wight Council for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday as she attended school regularly.

Gary Perkins, the council’s head of school improvement, told councillors at a scrutiny committee meeting on Monday evening: “Our policy at the moment is still unchanged. We have sought legal advice.

“There have been 18 cases since in court and we have won them all. We think our policy is correct. We think we know why the Isle of Wight case was lost. We think it was the quality of the documentation.”

Mr Perkins said each case is looked at on an individual basis and that the council issues the penalty notice after a request is made by a school.

Councillor Ray Bisby, Conservative member for Stanground South, said: “I do think if you are charging both parents individually for one child, that sounds like double dipping.

“It should be one charge. I think you should maybe look at this on a fairness basis.”

Mr Perkins replied: “It’s the law and we apply it.”

A report given to councillors also illustrated the pressures on school places which the council is currently under.

It states that there are currently 278 vacancies in Reception for September 2016 which are concentrated in a small number of schools.

There are currently 2,674 places for Year 7 pupils, 127 fewer than the current number of pupils in Year 4, and 449 less than the number of children in Reception.

The City Of Peterborough Academy, Voyager Academy and Ken Stimpson Community School are the only secondary schools with capacity, with only half of the Year 7 places at Voyager taken up.

The report also showed school absences was now just 0.1 per cent below the national average.

Mr Perkins said he was proud of the improvement, adding: “Our aim now is to be better than the national average.

“We have come from quite a long way behind.”