A petition lodged with Parliament to allow parents to take children out of school during term time has attracted over 106,000 signatures, 737 of them from Sheffield.
The present rules, introduced in 2013, mean that parents must file an application with their child’s headteacher in advance if they wish to go on holiday during term time. The headteacher makes the decision on whether the absence will be approved, with guidelines allowing holidays to be signed off under exceptional circumstances.
Parents who don’t follow the rules can be fined by their local council. The penalty of £60 will rise to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days and parents can be prosecuted if the fine is still outstanding after 28 days.
The Government is yet to respond to the petition, but commits to responding to all petitions that receive more than 10,000 signatures. With more than 100,000 signatures, the petition will also be considered for debate in parliament.
The petition was created by a Mr Dave Hedley, whose family has run foul of the rules: “Myself and my wife received a fine for our two eldest children (two fines each parent) for taking our children on holiday for 5 days in term time which was the only week free from surgery and radiotherapy.
“This apparently is not an exceptional circumstance. The council quote is S.444 A or 1 of the Education act 1996 which in its own term indicates truancy and not a one off family holiday. Councils are too ready to fine and wont (sic) consider exceptional circumstances.”
The school in question apparently knew of the cancer diagnosis which Mr Hedley, from Nottinghamshire, feels should be considered an exceptional circumstance.
Sheffield signatories so far, by parliamentary constituencies, are: Central 82, South East 191, Brightside & Hillsborough 235, Hallam 78, Helley 151.
You can join them by signing the petition here