PC UK fines parents for taking children on holiday…

Be warned, Australia, the future of a Politically Correct overbearing nation looks something like this…

From the BBC:

FinedFamilyStewart and Natasha Sutherland fined for term-time holiday

A couple who took their children on a week-long holiday during school term time have been ordered by magistrates to pay £1,000 in costs and fines.

Stewart and Natasha Sutherland, from Telford, Shropshire, originally refused to pay a £360 fine. It doubled after they failed to pay within 21 days.

They admitted failing to ensure their children attended school regularly.

Mr Sutherland, 39, said: “The people who make these laws and policies don’t live in the real world.”

‘Behaviour concerns’

The couple, their two daughters, aged 15 and 13, and six-year-old son went to the Greek island of Rhodes for a week at the end of September 2013.

Telford and Wrekin Council said stricter laws about taking children out of school specified that leave can only be granted in term time in exceptional family circumstances.

Mr Sutherland, who represented himself in court, said he booked the holiday a year before the law changed in September 2013.

He told magistrates he decided to take a family holiday because of problems with his eldest daughter, whose behaviour and school attendance had deteriorated.

He also said that the family had very little time together and his work meant he could be absent at Christmas, birthdays and holidays.

The Department for Education (DfE) has given schools more power to deal with unauthorised absence, and has also increased the amount parents can be fined.

A spokesman said: “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.

“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,” he added.

‘Like a rolling door’

Speaking before the court hearing, Mr Sutherland said: “Yes, school is important but I feel family time is important as well.

“At the moment, because me and my wife both work it’s like a rolling door in our house. One is at home the other is at work and vice-versa.

“We felt family time was needed to keep the family on track.”

The couple, from Trench, were fined £630 and ordered to pay £363 in costs by Telford magistrates.

Mr Sutherland told the BBC it was his first family holiday for five years because his job as a Ministry of Defence (MoD) guard had prevented him from taking annual leave during the school holidays.

He works 12-hour day and night shifts at MoD Donnington in Telford.

So a night shift worker from the Ministry of Defence who is unable to take annual leave during school holidays is prosecuted for taking a holiday with his family outside of school holidays.

I always thought that services such as schools and hospitals were there to serve the community not control the community.

It is understandable that there should be systems in place to ensure a child receives a decent education and is not withheld from essential learning, but a few days off from school when it is a normal family with caring parents should not be cause for a conviction, even when one of the children has teen issues.

Astonishingy, the parents could have received jail time.

School attendance rules

Parents in England and Wales have a legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school (unless they have opted to home-educate them). If they fail to do so, they are committing an offence under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

Parents can put in requests for term-time holidays, but these requests are granted or refused entirely at the head teacher’s discretion and are not a parental right.

Heads in England were previously able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances”. But since 1 September 2013, they have no longer been able to grant any absence in term time except under “exceptional circumstances”.

In Northern Ireland, the majority of family holidays taken during term time are categorised as an unauthorised absence.

If parents in England and Wales fail to ensure their children attend school, they may be issued with penalty notices of £50 to £100. Prosecution can result in a fine of up to £2,500, a jail sentence of up to three months or a community sentence.

Criminalising parents for taking time out with their children is harsh, especially if it is a one off. Surely a reasonable outcome would be a stern telling off and warning. If it happens repeatedly, then up the ante, but jail time for taking a vacation…?

It is one thing if parents deliberately neglect the education of their children, but taking a holiday is part of life’s education and nurture anyway, brings families closer, and children can potentially learn more in a couple of weeks in another environment than they can in ten weeks in a classroom.

5 thoughts on “PC UK fines parents for taking children on holiday…

  1. Good on you, Bones. Family time is actually more important than school time, which is not to undervalue education, but to stress the need to get priorities right.

  2. It is relevant to everyone who thinks Government should keep out of families lives and stop making itself into a nanny state which replaces parents.

    When the decision about when a family should take a holiday together rests with the head teacher and not with the parents we have a serious problem. When the parents can be fined or imprisoned for disobeying a school principle we are really in trouble.

    If this is happening with schools, how long before it happens with churches.

    Oh, hang on a minute, the UK Government says Church of England priests have to marry gay men even if the minister thinks this is unchristian.

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