Exclusive: Which Yorkshire schools have had most parents fined for term time holidays?

Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
Graphic: Graeme Bandeira
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AN EDUCATION boss says headteachers in a Yorkshire city need to understand the rules around pupil attendance as new figures show big differences in the numbers of schools pursuing fines from parents who take children out of lessons in term time.

The number of fines issued has risen dramatically across Yorkshire since the Government changed the guidelines given to schools two years ago.

Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

However an analysis of the fines issued shows that while some schools are regularly pursuing £60 penalty notices hundreds of others in the region are not.

Leeds schools have asked the city council to issue more than 3,400 fines in the 2014/15 academic year.

This was one of the highest figures in Yorkshire. But there was also 90 schools in the city which did not issue any fines at all.

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member responsible for children and families said: “We are aware there is some inconsistency in how different schools implement the government’s legislation on term time holidays, so we are working with head teachers to ensure they understand the legislation and are implementing it in the correct way. We have recently reviewed our code of conduct around this legislation and are sharing this with head teachers to remind them of their responsibilities and to ensure consistency across the city.

“We firmly believe that the best place for children to be during term time is in school, and continue to support schools to ensure parents understand the importance of ensuring their children attend school regularly and benefit from taking a full and active part in daily school life.

“Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school, and we have always encouraged parents to think twice before booking holidays during term time.”

The postcode lottery is repeated across Yorkshire with some schools having more than one parent a week fined and others issuing no fines at all.

Outwood Academy Adwick, in Doncaster, issued the highest number of fines in Yorkshire, according to the figures provided by 13 local education authorities. The school issued 180 fines while Outwood Grange Academy, in Wakefield, issued 140 - higher than any other school in the city. Both schools are part of the Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT).

Sir Michael Wilkins, academy principal and chief executive of OGAT said: “​It is unequivocal that GCSE results achieved by students can be adversely effected by poor attendance.” He said that the trust employed a range of strategies to ensure that students attend on a regular basis. “In extreme cases, where our repertoire has been exhausted, we will not hesitate to contact the local authority in order that parents understand their obligations and a fine may well be issued.

While four councils in Yorkshire had more than 3,000 parents fined in 2014/15 two areas saw far fewer penalties issued.

In Rotherham there were 148 fines and in York just eight A Rotherham Council spokeswoman said; “The local authority does not make the decision about whether or not to authorise an absence request from parents during term – this is taken by the head-teacher of each individual school or academy. The Council’s policy around absence during term time is determined by central government, which takes the view that parents shouldn’t take their children out of school during term time in order to raise educational attainment. Any decisions to fine – or to prosecute for non-payment - are determined by this government policy.

“Fixed Penalty Notices for leave of absence for the purposes of a family holiday are not issued automatically by the local authority. Some head teachers may choose to un-authorise the leave of absence for a child and take the matter no further. Other head teachers may choose to un-authorise the leave of absence and, after due consideration, request the local authority to issue such a notice.

“This is a decision that only the head teacher of each school can make. The head teacher will also take into account their previous criteria for deciding on whether or not to authorise the leave of absence.”

Maxine Squire, assistant director of Schools at City of York Council, said: “We offer schools guidance on the actions they can take to prevent absence and, from the feedback we get, they and local families back this approach. This includes signposting local agencies and education professionals who can work with the family to support them to get their child to school. Fines are used only as a means of enforcing attendance where there is a reasonable expectation that their use will secure an improvement. They are used only where parental co-operation with the school is either absent or insufficient, and where there is a risk that pupils are missing education.”

A Sheffield City Council spokeswoman said: “Research shows that children who spend more time in education achieve higher attainment, and this is something we work closely with schools on in order to improve pupils’ attendance. Our big ambition is that all Sheffield children, young people and families achieve their full potential and attending school every day is an important part in this.

“Schools take different approaches depending on their individual circumstances and the children at their school. These decisions aren’t taken lightly by schools – but are taken in the interest of the children’s education. We work with schools to look at patterns and trends and collect the fines. This money is then re-invested in resources to support attendance.”

Exclusive: Yorkshire’s postcode lottery over holiday fines for parents

WHERE WERE FINES ISSUED? YORKSHIRE’S POSTCODE LOTTERY

East Riding

Total fines 2680

Most fines

Parkside Primary - 105

South Holderness Technology College - 99

Hessle High School - 99

34 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools 148

Hull

Total fines 899

Archbishop Sentamu - 84

Malet Lambert - 53

Broadacre - 44

Kelvin Hall - 44

31 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 93

Sheffield

Total fines - 3032

Most fines

Westfield School - 151

Fir Vale School - 117

Outwood Academy City - 85

44 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 174

Doncaster

Total fines - 3531

Most fines

Outwood Academy, Adwick - 180

Owston Park Primary School - 128 (school roll 451 according to Ofsted 2014)

Armthorpe Shaw Wood Primary Academy - 97 (school roll 484 according to Ofsted 2014)

16 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 123

Barnsley

Total fines - 395

Horizon Community College - 30

Shafton ALC (Outwood Academy) - 23

42 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 92

Rotherham

Total fines - 148

Winterhill - 12

Rawmarsh School - 11

Oakwood High School - 9

Clifton Comprehensive - 9

88 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 123

Leeds

Total fines - 3435

Most fines

Leeds West Academy - 89

Woodkirk Academy - 86

East Ardsley - 84

90 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 270

Bradford

Total fines - 3507

Most fines

Dixons Allerton Academy - 104

Tong High School - 104

Bingley Grammar - 97

71 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 191

Wakefield

Total fines - 2070

Most fines

Outwood Grange Academy - 140

Minsthorpe Community College - 130

Castleford Academy - 80

52 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 143

Kirklees

Total fines - 2645

Most fines

Batley Girls High School - 121

Boothroyd Primary Academy - 99

Headfield Junior School - 92

13 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 118

Calderdale

Total fines - 353 (Calderdale could only provide all fines)

Most fines

Trinity Academy Halifax - 60

Mount Pellon Primary Academy - 54

Beech Hill Junior and Infant - 32

67 schools with zero fines

Total number of schools - 101

North Yorkshire

Total fines - 929

Stokesley Primary - 37

Filey School/Ebor Academy - 35

Malton Community Primary - 27

West Cliff Primary School - 27

York

Total fines - 8

Five schools, not identified.