PARENTS hit with fines for taking their children out of school during term time skyrocketed by nearly 70 per cent, new data has revealed. 

Figures from the Department of Education show 2,782 penalties were handed out to parents for their child’s persistent absence in the 2022/23 academic year across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole. 

Of them, 2,448 (88 per cent) were issued due to students being taken out of school for holidays – up from 1,446 the year before, or a rise of 69 per cent. 

It is also the highest on record since 2016/17. 

Bournemouth Echo:

A BCP Council spokeswoman said: “Last year was the first academic year in which the education system was not impacted by Covid in a significant way.  

“The government discouraged punitive measures for unauthorised absence and many absences were authorised for almost two years.” 

Those who are hit with a fine will have to pay £60 if paid within 21 days of receipt or £120 thereafter.  

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Fines have always been too blunt an instrument when it comes to tackling persistent absenteeism. 

"The use of fines is controversial, and it is becoming clear that they are ineffective in addressing overall absence."  

However, the authority has said there are no plans to increase this, like what is in place to rise parking fines. 

“Fines are part of an approach set out by government as part of a joint responsibility of parents, schools, Local Authorities (LA) and academy trusts,” the spokeswoman added. 

“There is no one answer to reducing persistent absence which has been a larger issue as a result of the pandemic.  

“It is a team approach between schools and families, with support from the LA. Sometimes PCNs have to be used when other approaches have been unsuccessful.” 

She added social skills and catching up on missed learning from the pandemic is being undermined by pupils being out of school during term time. 

“School attendance is important for a child’s achievement, wellbeing, and wider development,” she added. 

“Evidence shows that the students with the highest attendance throughout their time in school gain the best results in primary school assessments, in GCSE and A level exams.”