1. ITV Report

School truancy: Rising number of parents prosecuted for unauthorised term-time trips

Parents who take a child out of school without permission can face an initial fine of £60. Credit: PA

A rising numbers of parents are being prosecuted after their children missed school without permission, with some facing community sentences and even jail time.

Almost 20,000 people were taken to court in 2015 alone - an annual rise of more than a fifth, a Press Association survey found.

The number of people in England prosecuted in 2015 for failing to ensure a child went to school.
The number of community sentences issued in England in 2015.
The number of jail terms handed out in England in 2015.

The findings come on the same day the Supreme Court is due to rule on a landmark legal battle involving a father who took his daughter to Disney World in term-time without her headteacher's permission.

Jon Platt, seen with his wife Sally, challenged a conviction for taking his daughter on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Credit: PA

Jon Platt was fined £120 for the unauthorised family holiday to Florida in April 2015 but refused to pay.

The judges are ruling on an appeal by Isle of Wight Council after the High Court found in Mr Platt's favour in the case.

The number of prosecutions has risen steadily since a major government crackdown on children missing school in 2013 brought in tougher rules on term time holidays.

The Ministry of Justice statistics, gathered by the Press Association through freedom of information requests, found:

  • 19,920 people in England were prosecuted in 2015 for failing to ensure that a child went to school (Up 21% from 16,430 in 2014)
  • 14,890 people - approximately 75% - were found guilty among those taken to court (compared to 12,479 in 2014)
  • 11,493 were fined an average of £176 (compared to 9,214 in 2014 with an average fine of £172)
  • 553 people were given community sentences.
  • Eight people were handed jail terms

Parents who take a child out of school without permission, for any reason, can face a fine of £60 which rises to £120 if it is not paid quickly. Those who do not pay can face prosecution.

Around a million schoolchildren missed lessons last year after taking family holidays during term time, according to Government figures published last month.

One in six pupils in England took at least a half day off in the 2015/16 academic year. Credit: PA

In total, about one in six pupils in England took at least a half day off for a trip in the 2015/16 academic year, with the vast majority failing to get permission from the headteacher.

Overall, 1.1% of half-days were missed in primary, secondary and special schools due to unauthorised absence.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Our position remains that children should not be taken out of school without good reason. That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence."