1. ITV Report

Telford couple could be jailed for taking children on holiday during school term

The week-long break could result in a £2,500 fine and three-month prison sentence Photo: ITV News Central

A Telford couple could face jail after taking their three children on an unauthorised holiday to Greece during the school term time and refusing to pay a subsequent fine.

New guidelines introduced last year, under Section 444 of the Education Act, 1996, mean schools are not obliged to give pupils leave during term, except in "exceptional circumstances".

Stewart and Natasha Sutherland were initially given a fine of £360, that they refused to pay, which then doubled to £720 after 21 days.

They are due before Telford Magistrates' Court today.

The couple's children: Keane, 6, and daughters Sian, 13, and Rhiannan, 15 Credit: ITV News Central

Under the new guidelines, any parent that knows their "child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails without reasonable justification to cause them to do so" is liable on conviction to:

  • A fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale (up to £2,500)
  • Imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months
Stewart and Natasha Sutherland were initially given a fine of £360, that they refused to pay Credit: ITV News Central

Telford & Wrekin Council has defended the decision to fine the couple.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education has warned parents who discount a possible penalty from the cost of a cheaper holiday risk facing prosecution.

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