A HEADTEACHER has slapped fines on two sets of parents who flouted a controversial new rule to ban holidays during term time.
Marian Fairley, head at Lynnfield Primary School, in Grosvenor Street, Hartlepool, introduced a policy which ruled that any unauthorised holidays would result in a £60 fixed penalty notice.
The move was introduced last year in a bid to increase attendance and ensure parents fulfil their legal requirement to get their youngsters into school each day.
News of the rule was met with a mixed response from parents at the school with some saying the rule was “fair” and others branding it “atrocious”.
But since the introduction of the contentious scheme, in January last year, two families have have fallen foul of the regulations.
The result was two £60 penalty notices given to the rule-breaking parents, which are issued under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and are made payable to Hartlepool Borough Council.
The fines were handed out around a month ago so council bosses are waiting to see if those fined pay up within the 28 day period.
If not they could be hauled before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court.
Mrs Fairley said: “We introduced the policy because we wanted to ensure that all our pupils get the best possible start in life by giving them a good education which will enable them to fulfil their potential and we can only do that if they are in school.
“Although attendance levels at the school have improved in recent years and many parents and carers support us by only taking children away during school holidays, we were keen to bring about further improvement.
“Parents have reacted positively to the new policy and understand what we are trying to achieve for their children.
“They have supported our decisions and as a consequence it has had the desired effect in reducing the number of term time holidays taken, with only two penalty notices issued last year.”
Mrs Fairley’s rules for absences from school include:
lAll requests for absence will involve a meeting with the headteacher and if the request is refused, the reasons will be outlined in a letter to parents;
lNo holiday will be authorised if a child’s attendance falls below 95 per cent;
lOnly a maximum of 10 days holiday absence will be authorised in any school year;
lOnly in exceptional circumstances will a holiday be granted for year five and six pupils, and for all year groups in September;
lRequest for leave must be made before the holiday is booked and at least two weeks before departure.
Mrs Fairley has worked hard to boost attendance since taking over the reins four years ago and made headlines in 2011 when she introduced voucher incentives to parents to improve punctuality.
She also brought in a system where parents were sent an early-morning text message after noticing that up to 20 pupils each day were turning up 30 minutes late.