A father who was fined £630 after taking his three children on holiday during school term time has said the decision had nothing to do with saving money on out-of-season fares.
Stewart Sutherland, from Telford, told ITV News Central that he feels angry and bitter:
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Stewart Sutherland has described the new regulations that resulted in him and his wife getting fined for taking their kids on holiday during term time as a farce.
Speaking outside the court, the Ministry of Defence guard told reporters: "The people who make these laws and policies don't live in the real world."
Parents Stewart and Natasha Sutherland have been fined a total of £630 for taking their children on holiday during term time without authorisation. They will have to pay a total of £993 including costs and a victim surcharge.
Total fine is £630 for 3 offences of taking their children out of school without authorisation
Sutherlands are jointly fined. Total penalty is £993 including costs and victim surcharge.
A couple are due to appear in court today after taking their three children on holiday to Rhodes during the school term and refusing to pay a subsequent fine.
Stewart and Natasha Sutherland now face a maximum fine of 2,500 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
Here are a selection of a number of responses from users of the ITV News Facebook page:
– Becki Riddell
I take my kids on short 3/4 days holiday during term time. Why? Because we are struggling financially. Term time is the only time we can afford a holiday. If we didn't, my children would never get to go on holiday! Maybe it's the same for this family?
– Cheryl Fenwick
There's a different between poor attendance and taking your children on holiday for a week!
– Colin Enticott
Parents should set an example and support their child's education and the rules about it. Take your kids on a cheaper UK holiday in a caravan or a tent.
Poor attendance at school can have a hugely damaging effect, and children who attend school regularly are nearly four times more likely to achieve five or more good GCSEs than those who are regularly absent.
That is why we have given schools more power to tackle poor attendance and allowed them to intervene much earlier. We have also increased the amount parents can be fined for unauthorised absences and cut the amount of time they have to pay.
– Department of Education spokesperson
Parents should never simply discount a possible penalty notice from the cost of a cheaper holiday, because this is a criminal offence and when doing so they are always risking prosecution.”
Telford & Wrekin Council have issued a statement in relation to the case of a couple taken to court for refusing to pay a fine after taking their children on holiday during school term-time.
The decision to not authorise an absence request from parents during term is taken by a school or an academy and not the Council. The school or academy will then instruct the Council to issue the fine notice and legally this has to be done by the Council.
If the fine is not paid the Council must take further legal steps, as it has in this case.
– Telford & Wrekin Council statement
The Council’s policy on absence has been developed to reflect the national and local priority of raising the educational achievement and attainment of pupils and the Government’s view that parents should not take their children out of school during term time and follows changes in legislation that clearly indicate that absences during the term time can only be authorised by heads in exceptional circumstances.
A couple are due in court today 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.
Mr Sutherland told the Daily Mail: "I informed the school after the summer holidays that we were taking the children out for six days. At that point, I wasn’t even aware of the new legislation.
"We had a letter back warning that as the time off was not authorised we could be fined, but the holiday was already booked and paid for - what could I do?"
In a statement, Telford & Wrekin Council said the school involved had instructed it to issue the fine notice and "legally this has to be done by the Council".
“If the fine is not paid the Council must take further legal steps, as it has in this case".