Increase in parents fined for taking children on holiday during term time

Latest figures show more parents were fined for taking their children on holiday without permission than ever before on the Wirral

1360 penalty notices were issued to parents in Wirral between April 2021 and March 2022, an increase of 50 compared to pre-pandemic figures. The fines were given out because they took their children out of school during term time without being authorised.

The fines given out for holidays made up most of the fines issued that year with 1,639 issues for any reason. Other figures saw an increase with the number of penalty notices issued for other reasons rising to 279, nearly double the previous highest figure.

One of the reasons parents may decide to take their children on holiday despite the risk of a fine is the high costs of flights and hotels in the school holidays. Children are only allowed to miss school if they are too ill to go in or permission has been given by the school.

For holidays, permission has to be given by the head teacher of a school and can only do this if there are exceptional circumstances.

When asked why figures might be rising, a Wirral Council spokesperson said, “The numbers have been increasing since fixed penalties were introduced and the latest increase could be seen as a reflection of a more consistent approach to improving school attendance.”

As for the fines classified as other, it was explained: “The “other” category covers penalty notices issued to parents of pupils who have poor attendance and who may not have engaged with offers of support.”

During the pandemic, numbers for all penalty notices decreased significantly from 1338 in 2018/19 to 447 in 2020/21. Wirral Council said, “The 2020/21 figure was low in line with many other local authority areas due to coming out of the pandemic and being aware that many families may have had holiday dates changed.”

However, despite the number of fines increasing overall, the number of parents prosecuted was the lowest in five years. Wirral Council said, “Partly this is due to a significant number of penalty notices being issued towards the end of the academic year, so were still within the permitted payment period at the time the data was submitted to the Department of Education.”

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