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Sixty-seven Torfaen parents fined for children not attending school

Sixty-seven parents of Torfaen children have been fined over the last year for allowing their child to miss school.

In March 2023, Torfaen Council gave schools the power to hand out fixed penalty notices (FPNs) for pupils’ non-attendance. During 2022/23 a total of 22 fines were issued, and for 2023/24 schools have issued 67 fines (up to November 2023).

The main reason for FPNs in Torfaen is for unauthorised holidays being taken during term time.

They can only be given if the criteria set by the Welsh Government is met.

The data and the council’s approach to increasing attendance in schools will be discussed at this week’s meeting of the education scrutiny committee.

The FPN is £60 if paid with 28 days where it then increases to £120. If it’s not paid after 42 days the council may start a prosecution case.

Andrew Powles, the council’s director of education, says in his report: “The emerging data around the use of FPNs suggests that their use is having an impact on children taking unauthorised holidays during term time.

“For example, one secondary school where they have been used unauthorised absence has decreased by 0.5pp between September 2023 and November 2023. Anecdotal evidence has highlighted that school are using the pre-warning notices effectively as a way of avoiding using fines.

“There are still challenges to improving attendance that have been highlighted by our own research and findings as well as national research, this includes a very recent study undertaken by the Centre for Social Justice (source: The missing link: Restoring the bond between schools and families – The Centre for Social Justice).

“Their report highlights that nearly 30% of parents surveyed believed that the pandemic has shown that it is not essential to attend school every day.

“Other elements of the challenge relate to illness (in particular, mental and emotional health) and waiting lists for specialist medical support. The contributing factors are wide ranging, and the best outcomes are generally because of multiagency working between schools, LA services, and parents/carers.”

The parents of a Torfaen child whose school attendance was 62 per cent from April to July 2023 were prosecuted last November.

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Sixty-seven Torfaen parents fined for children not attending school

aerial photo of a beach
Taking unauthorised holidays taken during term time is the most common reason for the fines in Torfaen (Photo by Envato Elements licence)