Nottinghamshire County Council is expected to keep the threshold for issuing fines to parents for pupil absences unchanged when its Children and Young People’s Committee meets next week (Monday, 17 October).
Coun John Peck, chairman of the Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee said: “We are recommending that the threshold at which penalty notices or fines could be issued to parents for their child’s unauthorised absence from school stays the same at the current time.
“The three main reasons for this are that the threshold change which we introduced in July 2015 has not yet had time to fully bed in with many schools still to implement the changes.
“We also don’t have enough information available to us at the moment to properly evaluate the impact of the change against what is already known about the effectiveness of penalty notices.
“And with the current legal uncertainties arising out of the Isle of Wight case, a further reduction in the threshold would almost certainly lack public confidence. It is more sensible that we wait until the legal position is further clarified by the Supreme Court ruling and we receive a response from the Department for Education.”
In May this year, an Isle of Wight parent who chose not to pay the fine issued for a holiday in term-time, successfully contested the case in the High Court. And after an unsuccessful appeal, the island’s local authority is now bringing its case to the Supreme Court for a decision this autumn.
“We continue to deal with each case on its individual facts and present the courts with full details of pupils’ attendance histories when prosecuting. We believe that parents should remain cautious about treating this judgement as permission to take their children out of school for holidays during term time,” added Coun Peck.
“So far as head teachers are concerned, nothing has changed – it remains the case that they should only agree a leave of absence in exceptional circumstances.”
There is strong evidence linking good attendance with good attainment and Nottinghamshire’s overall and persistent absence rates continue to be below or in line with the national picture.
The Council’s decision to reduce the threshold last year was made to bring its arrangements in line with national government expectations and to reinforce its commitment that pupils should only be absent from school in exceptional circumstances.