Monday, 14 July 2014


Term-time holiday parents get criminal records

Parents who took their children out of school to go on holiday to Australia in October have been given criminal records.

The pair, who have not been identified in order to protect their children, were given conditional discharges at Nuneaton Magistrates Court on Wednesday under the government’s new law against taking children out of school during term time.

Speaking outside the court after the hearing, the mother said that she thought the law used to prosecute them - Section 44 of the Education Act 1996 - was flawed.

The young family went to Australia for three weeks last October, according to the Coventry Telegraph.

The mother, who was convicted following a trial, was given a 12-month conditional discharge, while the father, who later changed his plea to guilty, was handed a ten-month conditional discharge.

The mother told the court that her family had been "suffering emotionally" at the time and that they had been visiting relatives in Australia.

“The magistrates gave the fairest verdict they could under the current laws, which are flawed," she told the newspaper after the hearing. "I fully support any campaign to call for a judicial review. I still feel I did the right thing for my children at the right time.”

Prosecuting counsel, on behalf of Coventry City Council, told magistrates that the only legal justification for children of compulsory school age being absent during term-time was "for sickness or an unavoidable cause".

The pupils' headteacher had refused to give permission for the absence.

The couple were issued with a £240 fine on their return, which they did not pay, it was reported.

A council spokesman said: "Coventry City Council and our schools follow the guidance set down by the Department for Education in trying to maintain good levels of attendance. Schools decide whether to authorise leave based on whether they think there are exceptional circumstances.

“Penalty notices are issued by the council at the request of schools for various reasons including where the school has felt there were no exceptional circumstances to justify absence. On this occasion the parents decided not to accept the penalty notice but today's verdict demonstrates that the council`s course of action was correct."

Some parents groups are hoping to take legal action in Europe in protest against the hardline government stance.


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