19 Mar '13

News Number of school truancy fines against parents rises by a third

Schools and councils in England handed out 41,224 £60 fines in 2011-12, compared with 32,641 the year before

The number of fines imposed upon parents for allowing their children to miss school has leapt by a third in a year as part of a crackdown on truancy, statistics reveal.

Figures released by the Department for Education show schools and councils in England handed out 41,224 £60 fines in 2011-12, compared with 32,641 the year before.

The fine doubles if parents fail to pay it after 28 days. Parents may be prosecuted if they still have not paid after 42 days. Some 6,361 parents were prosecuted, compared with 5,629 the year before.

The number of pupils in primary, secondary, special schools and academies who missed at least a month of school – children known as "persistent absentees – fell to 5.2% from 6.1% the year before. There were 333,850 persistent absentees - 60,000 fewer than the year before.

The coalition changed the definition of a persistent absentee in 2011 from a pupil who missed a fifth of the school year to one who missed a quarter.

On a typical school day, 327,000 pupils were out of school, compared with 370,000 the year before.

Overall absence for holidays, illness and truancy fell to 5.1%, from 5.8%.

Some 0.5% of lesson time was lost because parents had taken their children on holiday, the same proportion as last year.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "If children are not in school they cannot learn. Too many children are still missing too many lessons. We must continue to tackle poor attendance and make sure every pupil gets a good education."

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