Dad faces hefty fine for term time holiday after only one child has school permission

By Staff

Paul Hughes, from South Sheilds, is facing a fine if he takes his oldest boy out of school during the term time for a holiday, despite having permission to take his youngest away

A dad is facing a fine for taking his eldest son on holiday during school time, even though his youngest got the okay.

Paul Hughes is upset because one of his sons can’t go on a family trip but the other can. His oldest boy’s school said ‘no’ when the family asked for time off, but his youngest boy’s school said ‘yes’.

The South Shields dad works away a lot and isn’t able to choose when he has annual leave. He says when he’s back home, being with his kids is very important because “family time is precious” and “they’re not kids for long”, reports Chronicle Live.

Now Paul and his wife may face a £60 fine each if they take their 15-year-old son on holiday anyway. The dad said his son, who goes to Mortimer Community College, hardly ever misses school and is doing well in his studies.

“Why should I be threatened with a fine for wanting to spend time with my kid? I can totally understand if I was taking them out of school for months or weeks at a time, but that’s not the case here,” he said.

Paul, who helps build wind turbines for renewable energy, thinks headteachers should not get to choose which kids can miss school. Under the current system, school leaders have the power to show discretion when it comes to families asking for term time holidays.

Paul told staff at Mortimer Community College that his son, 15, could do any missed work at home. He added: “I don’t believe in the Government giving the headteacher the book to decide who gets to spend time with their family. I understand if that child’s attendance was very poor and they were behind in education. But really the only time my kids are off is when they’re really ill. If he’s going to miss so much work, send it home and he can do it in his own time.

“If I could take my kids on holiday during school holiday time I would do that, but that’s not the case. If the money we’ll be fined would go towards education I probably wouldn’t mind paying it. But I don’t know where this money is going. There should be some leeway, especially for people who work away and don’t get to see their kids as much.”

Paul recalled that when he was at school, parents were given a “two week grace period” each year to take their children out of school. He said that he had spoken with the attendance officer at Mortimer Community College who pointed out that Paul’s son had already taken four days off in October. Paul, a former Armed Forces member, explained this was for an educational trip to the World War Two battlefield in Normandy, ahead of Remembrance Day.

He added: “I don’t understand how we can’t take our own children on holiday, but it’s acceptable for me to pay a school for them to take my kids on holiday.”

Paul also shared his frustration that there would be a fine per parent, while the school can also take kids on trips away during term time, or have days where the schools get closed due to the likes of teacher training days.

Speaking on behalf of Mortimer Community College, a spokesperson said: “We work hard with our families to achieve good attendance and to ensure all our students get the best from their education. We do understand the frustrations parents may have around the law, but the school follows the law and guidance issued by the Department of Education around authorisation for leave of absence, and absences from school can only be granted by Head Teachers in exceptional circumstances. It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases.”

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