Parents could be fined for children being late to school just TEN times
Parents could now be fined for their children being late to school just a handful of times under stricter punishments introduced in Staffordshire.
As well as the potential fine for children being late 10 times, parents can now also be fined for any period of unauthorised absence.
Previously Staffordshire County Council used a 'common sense' approach, which dealt out penalty notices for 10 days off over a period of two half terms and being late 20 times.
The county council confirmed it has updated its code of conduct but reiterated that it will only take action at the discretion of headteachers who have the final say on whether there are any 'exceptional circumstances' around absence.
The authority confirmed it had consulted with headteachers before implementing its own changes.
Education chief Councillor Philip White said: "The Supreme Court judgement is very clear that children should go to school every day, because absence and lateness affects their performance and is disruptive for the rest of the class while they’re catching up.
"Our guidance reflects this and ensures parents know where they stand, but it’s important to remember the general position remains unchanged: head teachers have the discretion to decide whether the reason for absence is exceptional or not and if unauthorised by the Head the school reports this to the county council which then processes the penalty notice."
Kingsmead School in Hednesford was among those to inform parents of the new rules, stating they will be implemented from January 1.
A letter from assistant headteacher Mr Bury said: "These changes have been agreed with local head teachers and have been implemented to help promote and support good attendance to school."
It added: "It is important to remember it is your responsibility to inform the school of a planned absence.
"Parents and carers that fail to do this will be required to provide evidence to explain their child’s absence.
"Failure to inform the school of a planned absence or provide evidence of an absence that is suspected to be a holiday could result in a fixed penalty notice."
The fine for taking a child out of school without permission is £60.
Figures obtained by a Freedom of Information request revealed that the council has taken 184 parents to court in the last two years and collected £102,080 in fines.