Damian Hinds: £1K holiday fines won't be used

Education secretary says that fines for taking a child on holiday during term time 'should be proportionate'

Damian Hinds has said he would not expect parents to be fined £1,000 for taking their child out of school to go away on holiday

Damian Hinds has said he does not expect £1,000 fines to be levied against parents who take their child on holiday during term time

His comment came after a school in Lancashire warned families that they could face a fine of up to £1,000 per parent per child if they took their child out of school during term time.

However, Mr Hinds said that penalties applied to parents have "to be proportionate".

Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported that Balladen Community Primary School in Lancashire had sent a letter to parents warning them that they could face a dramatic hike in fines. 

The letter from Sara Richardson, the school's head, said: “Lancashire County Council are currently trialling a new system for dealing with unauthorised holidays and breaks during term time.

"This involves an increase in the financial penalty to parents of up to £1,000 per parent per child, rather than the current fixed penalty notice of £120 per parent per child. This system is still at the pilot stage but please be aware this may come in to effect at some stage."

Fines for term-time holidays

Appearing in front of journalists this afternoon at the Education World Forum in London, Mr Hinds was asked whether he agreed with the idea.

“Clearly we want people to be going to school unless there really are exceptional circumstances," he said. 

"You’ve got to think of the whole class – there’s an effect on others in the class, an effect on the teacher, trying to keep everyone up to speed if not everybody is there.

"I think it is right that there is a system which has penalties in it, but that has to be proportionate."

He said it was "technically" already possible to fine parents up to a £1,000 for an unauthorised absence, but that he did not expect a fine of this level to be applied.

"We’ve long had a system of £60 or £120," he said. "If you're charged £120, it’s lower if you pay within the time frame.

"Technically, it is possible if you go to court to be fined £1,000. That hasn’t just changed."

But he added: "It should be proportionate – I don’t expect that method to be used."

Lancashire County Council has published a statement today saying it has no plans to increase its penalties.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you