School campaign targets term-time holidays

School attendance poster - 'Fancy a Holiday?'PARENTS who take their children on holiday in term time are being targeted in the latest phase of a hard-hitting campaign.

The latest stage in East Sussex County Council’s Get A Grip campaign, which highlights the detrimental impact of absence on children’s education, is being promoted through radio and bus advertising.

Using the slogan ‘Fancy a holiday?’, the campaign highlights the fact that parents have 175 non-school days a year to take a family holiday and may receive a penalty notice if they take their child out of school in term time.

The launch comes as the latest figures show 73 parents were prosecuted by the council in December, at the request of local schools, for failing to ensure their child attends regularly.

Between them, the parents were ordered by the courts to pay more than £22,000 in fines and costs, while nine were given a conditional discharge and one received a 12-month community order.

Cllr Bob Standley, county council lead member for education and inclusion, special educational needs and disability, said: “School absences are authorised by head teachers in exceptional circumstances only and holidays do not fall into that category.

“With 175 non-school days available throughout the year, there’s no excuse for taking your child on holiday during term time.

“Every day of school missed impacts on your child’s education and that of other children in their class, leaving a long-term impact on their future educational and professional career.

“The campaign so far has been effective in raising awareness of this issue and sending out the message that we’ll do everything we can to improve attendance levels in our schools and give our children the best chance of future success.”

In the latest round of prosecutions, 40 parents in Eastbourne and Wealden and 33 in Hastings were brought before the courts and ordered to pay £11,927.98 in fines and £10,746.99 in costs.

Absence in term time can only and must be approved by the head teacher and anyone taking their child out of school without permission may receive a £60 penalty notice per parent per child – or court action if they fail to pay.