PARENTS in South Tyneside are facing tougher penalties if they take their children out of school for family holidays.
Headteachers are currently able to grant a leave of absence for term-time vacations in “special circumstances” of up to 10 school days per year.
They can also grant extended leave for more than 10 school days in exceptional circumstances.
However, amendments to The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 remove references to family holiday and extended leave, as well as the statutory threshold of 10 school days.
Parents who take their children out of school without permission will also be given less time to pay £60 penalty notices.
The new rules come into force in September and South Tyneside Council has written to schools advising them of the new guidance.
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A council spokesman said: “We want all of our children and young people to fulfil their potential and attendance at school gives them the best chance of doing that.
“School absence can cause a child’s education to suffer as lessons and extra curricular activities are missed and continuity of work is lost.
“We would urge parents to avoid taking their children out of school during term time.
“Following guidance from the Department of Education, from September 1 leave of absence from school can only be granted in exceptional circumstances at the headteacher’s discretion.
“The council has held discussions and written to schools advising them of this guidance. Every school has its own policy and parents are advised to check this with the school before making any arrangements.”
The amendments make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Headteachers should determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
Amendments have also been made to the 2007 Regulations in the Education (Penalty Notices) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. These amendments, as described below, will come into force on 1 September 2013.
Parents who fail to ensure their children’s regular attendance at school, or fails to ensure that their excluded child is not in a public place during the first five days of exclusion, is liable for a fine.
At the moment, parents must pay £60 if they pay within 28 days, or £120 if they pay within 42 days.
From September, they will be given 21 days to pay £60, or £120 within 28 days.
The Department for Education said this brings attendance penalty notices into line with other types of penalty notices and allows local authorities to act faster on prosecutions.