Parents of pupils who are repeatedly late for school will be hit with £60 fines under new rules being introduced at thousands of schools across the UK.
The £60 fine will be imposed if their children are late more than 10 times in one term. Conservative county councillor Peter Edgar said the policy was in line with government guidelines.
Councils have warned that the fines will be doubled if they are not paid within 21 days and carry the threat of prosecution and imprisonment for parents who do not pay up.
The Mail Online report:
One council is deploying so-called late-gate patrols to ask tardy parents why their children are arriving late.
But parents’ groups criticised the move yesterday, and said the fines would ultimately punish the children, not their parents.
Margaret Morrissey, from the campaign group Parents Outloud, said: ‘For some families, the money they will be fined will be very important to them and it will be the children who lose out.’
Heads have been able to fine the parents of regular truants under laws introduced by Labour in 2003, and two years ago the Government axed their discretionary power to allow children up to ten days off during term time. This led to an estimated 64,000 fixed-penalty notices being issued last year.
Now, following fresh guidance, thousands of schools are targeting children who regularly miss registration.
Nearly 500 primary and secondary schools in Hampshire have written to parents warning them that from September, parents will be fined if their children are late for school more than ten times in a term.
In Islington, North London, parents could be fined if their child misses registration 12 times in a six-week period. Poor punctuality could ‘compromise everyone’s learning’ and cause ‘social disruption’, the council said. Government guidance allows school registers to stay open for 30 minutes after the start of the school day, but schools can close them immediately after they are taken.
Valid reasons for being late include a GP or dentist appointment, and heads can use discretion in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
In Southend, Essex, where late-gate patrols have started, one parent who was questioned by a council officer when her child was late, said: ‘Mornings get hectic. I could get up at 4.30am but still be late because right before we leave one of the kids will need the toilet.’
Anne Jones, Southend’s councillor for children and learning, said: ‘We do not want to be prosecuting parents but we also want children to be in school and there comes a time where we have no further options.’