BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Parents condemn new £60 ‘truancy’ fines

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: Parents condemn new £60 ‘truancy’ fines

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

Parent Terry Banfield is against the new truancy policy. He’s saying education is not just about the 3 Rs. He took his daughter to the Lake District for a week in May with her school’s permission and he says she read books and learnt all sorts

TRUANCY PENDRE 20.12.02 POSED BY A MODEL Out on patrol in Cwmbran town centre looking for truanting schoolchildren are Graham Garland, education officer for Torfaen, and PC Steve Jones (8261863)

First published in News

EDUCATION chiefs in Gwent will be able to hand out “punitive” fines to families of students who skip school from September. JOHN PHILLIPS takes an in-depth look at the merits of a controversial new policy which could also penalise parents who take their kids on holiday during term time.

WHEN the new academic year starts this autumn, families will face the prospect of receiving £60 fines if their children take unauthorised absence from school.

Local education authorities in South Wales have previously taken parents of pupils who play truant to court, leaving them with fines and legal costs.

But for the first time, an LEA in Gwent will be in a position to hand out fines to families without having to resort to court proceedings.

The penalties could help schools to identify persistent non-attendance issues within families without going so far as taking them to court.

Torfaen council, which endorsed the new fines’ policy this month, stressed the fines could provide an early intervention against unauthorised absence while cutting back on lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

LEAs will only be able to issue one fine per child over the course of an academic year and will not make any money out of them, as cash raised from these penalties can only be used to cover administration costs with the balance to be passed on to Welsh Government.

Yet, the policy has sparked fury from parents, some of who feel the penalties are unfair.

These non-attendance fines will be issued to cover three basic scenarios: holiday absences, truancy and any other unauthorised absence from school.

It was the holiday element which appeared to hit a raw nerve with parents.

More than 100 readers posted comments on our website as we carried stories about the new policy.

As families prepared for the big summer getaway, some questioned why they could not take their children out of school to go on holiday without the prospect of incurring a fine.

Parents stressed they may not always be able to book time off work when their children are off school.

In the past, parents had been able to take their children on holiday during term time with the authorisation of the school. But this new policy makes it likely they will receive fines.

As Torfaen council discussed the non-attendance fines this month, its interim head of education services, Dermot McChrystal, made it clear the local authority did not authorise holidays during term time.

But some parents reacted badly to the news, vowing to flout the new regulations and pay £60 fines rather than stump up hundreds more on their holiday packages.

One disgruntled reader said: “As a parent I will happily pay a £60 fine if it means saving £500 by going on holiday during term time.”

Another parent, Terry Banfield, branded the new policy “totalitarian”.

The Independent Living Fund support worker stressed he had been allowed to take his five-year-old daughter Kitty on holiday to go the Lake District only this spring.

Mr Banfield, 60, of Cardigan Crescent, Croesyceiliog, said: “I think it is totally deplorable.

“They are hinting, they are suggesting that parents don’t educate their children.

“If you take children out of school for a week, it doesn’t mean they’re not being educated.

“You can get education in the home, as well as at school. Most parents do that.

“It’s totalitarian. There is no way I’m going to pay a £60 fine. It’s ridiculous.

“This year in May, we went on holiday to the Lake District. I had the school’s permission.

“My daughter read books and had a great time and learnt about the Lake District.

“It was educational. Most holidays are.

“That’s what education is all about – discovering the world, experiencing different environments.

“You don’t just learn the three Rs. You have got to go with the flow.

“It is saying to parents they can’t educate their children, it’s saying children can’t learn through play.”

Torfaen council was at pains to stress the policy was imposed to comply with new government legislation, known as the Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013.

Nonetheless the local authority carried out a consultation exercise with schools, their governing bodies and even the police before voting to enforce the policy.

Results from the consultation found that schools would need support to ensure that attendance policies were appropriately enforced and Torfaen council should do as much as possible to support families with complex problems, including poor attendance.

One head recently named as the inspirational primary head teacher of the year indicated that issuing fines to parents who may not be able to afford them in the first place may not be the best approach.

John Healy, the head teacher of St David’s RC Primary in Cwmbran, said: “I am not in favour of it.

“There are other ways to encourage pupils to go to school. This is punishing their parents.

“This is counter-productive because they won’t be able to pay.

“The best solution is to have school nurture groups.

“There is one that is really, really successful in Duffryn. They focus on getting children into school.

“Fines are too punitive. You have got to improve the quality of the provision for the pupils who are not attending, in other words meet their needs.”

Education bosses will consider issuing fines when students lose at least 10 sessions or five school days without authorisation.

The new charges will rise to £120 if they are not paid within four weeks and parents who refuse to pay after that time could then end up in court.

Parents will be able to complain to the Education Welfare Service or opt to face proceedings in magistrates’ courts.

Four LEAs in Gwent will formally introduce the fines’ policy this autumn.

However, Blaenau Gwent launched one element of this policy early, the so-called holiday fines, back in September 2013.

The LEA phased out the old rules which allowed parents to take their children on holiday during term time with the authorisation of their school.

But a year on, it is difficult to assess what impact the policy had, as Blaenau Gwent did not issue a single holiday fine to parents.

It could take months before LEAs can determine if the fines have had any impact on pupil attendances.

But two of the five LEAs in Gwent believe their introduction will be positive and help raise standards.

In an official statement, a Blaenau Gwent council spokesman said: “Regular attendance is important, not just because the law requires it, but also because it is the best way of ensuring children get the most out of school.”

Meanwhile, Torfaen’s executive member for children and young people, Cllr David Yeowell, said: “Attendance in school is essential to improve children’s educational prospects and it reduces the risk of absence leading to criminal or anti-social behaviour.

“Fixed penalty notices are just one of the sanctions available for poor attendance and offer an effective intervention for improving levels of unauthorised absence before it becomes entrenched and persistent, while reducing the need for lengthy and costly prosecutions.

“Fines are punitive by nature and this will cause financial difficulty for some, but parents can avoid that difficulty by working with the council to address issues early and by ensuring their children attend school regularly.”

Comments (2)

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7:35pm Tue 29 Jul 14

architron says...

Its my first time posting on here so here is a video to explain me as a person.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=BrkKTymq6Ec


More dictatorship in a supposedly free country.

This is what happens when you know your enemy and you know the system.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=ojZr6k2ksls


Go on this website and you can search private corporation that do bussiness for financial gain.

http://www.do-busine
ss.net/sbc/Company/S
earch

Just a small cross section: but never the less these public bodies are actually private corporations, who do bussiness for the profits of ts shareholders.

Who are the shareholders.

Gwent police authority.
The NHS.
Caerphilly county council also traded as Oakdale community centre.
Plaid cymru.
Labour party.
Conservative party.
David Cameron MP.
George Osborne MP.

Now the interesting thing is when you do a search on the securities and stock exchange with your bond number on your birth certificate, you can find out how much your wotrh to privste banks.

This guy shows you how to do it.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=LfhzfkAv6OY


This video tells some facts about birth certificates.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=o3RYTsz0EmU


Your birth certificate is your strawman . Have you ever wondered why all your name is in capitals on your bank or credit card?

Meet your strawman.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=ME7K6P7hlko


So the planet is a corporation that makes profit for who?

This video shows the facts of the legal system that really will blow your mind.

http://m.youtube.com
/watch?v=oYJzXkcJgEU


So the authorities use a language against you that you did not know even existed, it may sound like English but it is not. Its called legalease and it deceives you into a verbal contract with the authorites. That is known as fraud.
Its my first time posting on here so here is a video to explain me as a person. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=BrkKTymq6Ec More dictatorship in a supposedly free country. This is what happens when you know your enemy and you know the system. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=ojZr6k2ksls Go on this website and you can search private corporation that do bussiness for financial gain. http://www.do-busine ss.net/sbc/Company/S earch Just a small cross section: but never the less these public bodies are actually private corporations, who do bussiness for the profits of ts shareholders. Who are the shareholders. Gwent police authority. The NHS. Caerphilly county council also traded as Oakdale community centre. Plaid cymru. Labour party. Conservative party. David Cameron MP. George Osborne MP. Now the interesting thing is when you do a search on the securities and stock exchange with your bond number on your birth certificate, you can find out how much your wotrh to privste banks. This guy shows you how to do it. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=LfhzfkAv6OY This video tells some facts about birth certificates. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=o3RYTsz0EmU Your birth certificate is your strawman . Have you ever wondered why all your name is in capitals on your bank or credit card? Meet your strawman. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=ME7K6P7hlko So the planet is a corporation that makes profit for who? This video shows the facts of the legal system that really will blow your mind. http://m.youtube.com /watch?v=oYJzXkcJgEU So the authorities use a language against you that you did not know even existed, it may sound like English but it is not. Its called legalease and it deceives you into a verbal contract with the authorites. That is known as fraud. architron
  • Score: -6

10:28pm Tue 29 Jul 14

landyman3030 says...

So let them take the fines off the truants parents without the court costs.
Regular punctual attendance to school is THE most important thing. Some parents need to be told this as it somehow doesn't enter their heads naturally. But they are a minority. I hope that the fact that Blanaeu Gwent hasn't yet issued a fine for a holiday request is a good sign. People who ensure good punctual attendance of their children should be allowed to take their children on one holiday a year in term time without fear of punishment. Mr. Banfield is right when he says many aspects of a holiday can be educational. Even the current education policy for reception and year 1 state learn through free play instead of constricted syllabus. I hope this continues.
So let them take the fines off the truants parents without the court costs. Regular punctual attendance to school is THE most important thing. Some parents need to be told this as it somehow doesn't enter their heads naturally. But they are a minority. I hope that the fact that Blanaeu Gwent hasn't yet issued a fine for a holiday request is a good sign. People who ensure good punctual attendance of their children should be allowed to take their children on one holiday a year in term time without fear of punishment. Mr. Banfield is right when he says many aspects of a holiday can be educational. Even the current education policy for reception and year 1 state learn through free play instead of constricted syllabus. I hope this continues. landyman3030
  • Score: 4

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