Parents warned on term-time holidays

Bargain breaks are still tempting parents in Norfolk and Suffolk to take their children on holiday during term-time even though they run the risk of being fined.

Bargain breaks are still tempting parents in Norfolk and Suffolk to take their children on holiday during term-time even though they run the risk of being fined.

Results of a national survey show that a quarter of parents have already taken their children on holidays during school term this year.

And, although exam time is looming, almost a third of parents admitted they would do so before the end of the year to avoid paying peak- season prices.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said it asked its schools to follow guidance from the Department for Children, Schools and Families:

That parents should not normally take pupils on holidays in term-time.

That any requests to do so must be made in advance.

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That they will only be agreed if special circumstances warrant them.

In 2007/08 year, 2,524 out of the 110,000 pupils in Norfolk were taken on holidays during term-time that were not approved by schools.

County deputy director of children's services Fred Corbett said: 'There is a clear link between school attendance and performance, and because of this I would appeal

to parents to ensure their

children don't miss out on their education.

'In cases of persistent absence, we will use all the powers available to us to try to ensure that a child receives the education they are entitled to.'

Another council spokesman said: 'We wouldn't prosecute solely on

the basis of one holiday, but would

if it is part of a persistent pattern

of unauthorised absence.'

So far this academic year in Norfolk, 167 court cases and 180 penalty notices have been brought for parents relating to the persistent unauthorised attendance of their children, compared with 163 court cases and 129 penalty notices for the entire previous year.

In Suffolk, the county council says it has toughened up its response.

Spokesman John Ross said: 'In September 2007 we introduced fixed- penalty notices for unauthorised holidays taken.

'A total of 23 fines has been issued for the academic year to date where an unauthorised holiday has triggered the absence.

'There have been no prosecutions in relation to unauthorised holidays.

'A total of 1,439 warning letters has been issued in relation to unautho-rised holidays taken in term-time.'

Fines were introduced in 2004 to deter parents from letting their children bunk off school as authorities cracked down on term-time absences. But the new national survey shows that parents are prepared to take the risk.

In England, parents who take their children out of school without the head's permission could be fined and prosecuted if the fine is not paid.

Bob Atkinson, of, which conducted the survey, said: 'At the moment every penny counts, and the potential savings families can make by nipping off on holiday a few days before the end of term are too much of a temptation for many parents.'

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