PARENTS have been given a fresh warning not to take their children out of school during term time - or risk facing prosecution.

As the school holidays approach, Dorset County Council is reminding parents and carers that taking children out of school during term time, without permission from the head teacher, could result in prosecution.

If requested by the school, the county council may issue a penalty notice of £60 for unauthorised absence, which, if not paid within 21 days, will double to £120. If this remains unpaid, parents will be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court.

Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled against Isle of Wight dad Jon Platt who claimed he should not have been penalised for taking his daughter to Florida in term time because her attendance was over 90 per cent.

It ruled that parents must ensure their children attend school regularly, and that ‘regularly’ means ‘in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school’.

Deborah Croney, Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for economy, education, learning and skills, said: “We are asking parents to consider the impact holidays during term time could have on their child’s education.

“There is clear evidence that missing school can lead to lower academic achievement. Taking a child on holiday in term time can also interrupt the learning of the whole class, with teachers having to spend time helping children catch up when they return.

“One of our top priorities is enabling children to have the best possible start in life, and a major part of this is education.”

The council advises parents to make applications for absences to the head teacher in advance, and these will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

It also advises checking what a school’s rules are regarding the definition of ‘regular’ attendance.

A mother-of-four from Bournemouth said she would rather pay the fine for taking her children on holiday during term time as it was cheaper than paying the hiked price of a holiday during the school break.

As reported in the Daily Echo earlier this year, Gemma Lawson and her husband Symeon, from Bournemouth, were taken to court after taking their children on an unauthorised holiday.

The couple were fined a total of £200 each and ordered to pay costs of more than £400.

But Mrs Lawson said the cost of a week’s holiday to Tenerife in the week before half term was nearly £2,500 cheaper than a week during the school holidays.