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Monday, 20 October 2014

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Only six parents fined over school absences in Carlisle and Dalston

Only six fines were issued for unauthorised absences from school in Carlisle and Dalston.

A Freedom of Information request submitted to Cumbria County Council shows that in the 2013/2014 school year, 39 parents and guardians were issued with fixed penalty notices.

Under the new Anti-Social Behaviour Act, headteachers have the power to issue fines to parents for allowing their children to miss school for holidays or unauthorised absences.

The figures released by Cumbria County Council show a total of £960, or 16 fines, has been paid so far.

However, no fines were issued specifically to parents for taking their child on holiday during term-time without the head’s permission.

If payment is made within 21 days the fine is £60, rising to £120 if it is paid after 21 days but before 28 days. If no payment is made, parents can be prosecuted.

In north Cumbria, there were five fines issued in Carlisle – the second highest in the county – and one in Dalston.

Workington had the highest number of fines in Cumbria – nine, with three each issued in Maryport and Whitehaven, two each in Cockermouth and Cleator Moor and one each in Egremont and Kirkby Stephen.

Elsewhere, three parents were fined in Barrow, three in Millom, one in Ulverston and one in Windermere.

As the local education authority, Cumbria County Council is responsible for administering the scheme in the county.

A council spokesman said: “Persistent absence can be highly damaging to a child’s education, which is why we take the issue so seriously.

“Research shows that children attending school regularly are more likely to gain better qualifications, have access to a wider range of opportunities, stay away from crime and anti-social behaviour and better develop friendships and important life skills.

“While we always look to resolve attendance issues through having discussions and offering support, parents need to be aware that we will resort to fines and if necessary pursuing prosecutions as a last resort when other methods for improving attendance fail.”

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