MORE than 400 penalty notices have been issued to families in Cornwall and Devon for taking their children out of school in term time, new figures show.
Councils in the two counties issued the fines after new Government regulations came into force in September – almost the same as were dished out during the entire previous year.
The fines run into the thousands, with costs equating to £60 per parent per child - after removing children without permission following rules which only allow for “exceptional” circumstances.
But the new regulations have sparked a backlash from parents, who are angry at having to pay higher prices to holiday during half term and the summer. 150,000 people have now signed an online petition at the Downing Street website.
The new Government regulations mean head teachers can no longer grant holidays during term time except in “special circumstances”, such as illness or family crisis.
Amendments to the 2006 regulations removed references to family holidays and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days.
They also increased fine amounts to a maximum of £120 per child – £60 per parent per child. So if a family with two children go on holiday during term time, the likely fine will be £240.
The new regulations came about following the Taylor Report which stressed the importance of regular attendance at school. These extra measures are in addition the Government’s previous reduction in the national persistent absence target from 20 to15%.
A spokesman for the Department for Education 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.