Most Dartford and Gravesham parents haven't paid fines for taking children out of school this year
PUBLISHED: 10:05 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 19 July 2017
This content is subject to copyright.
Kent County Council has released its annual figures
As students count down the days to the start of the summer holidays, more than half of parents taking their children out of school during term time are yet to pay back fines in Dartford and Gravesham.
Since September, Kent County Council has issued more than 200 fines across the two boroughs, notably less than the 674 issued from September 2014 to July 2015.
The drop is due to a brief change in policy to only prosecute parents whose child’s attendance at school falls to 90 per cent or below.
However this policy was since removed in April after the Supreme Court ruled a child should attend the full 190 school days in an academic year.
Despite the drop in numbers, just 59 fines have been paid from the 127 issued in Gravesham, while 35 of the 77 issued in Dartford have been paid so far.
Parents and guardians must pay £60 if issued with the fine by KCC, which could double to £120 if no payment is made within 21 days.
The council says fines that are paid go toward “administering penalty notices and contributes in a small way to funding our staff to support families finding it difficult to get their children into school.”
Any parents who have refused to pay have been warned the local authority is taking further legal action by taking them to court over their child’s absence.
Roger Gough, cabinet member for children, young people and education at Kent County Council said: “Apart from issuing Penalty Notices, Kent County Council prosecutes parents whose children have unauthorised absences from school. Since May 2016, Kent County Council has successfully prosecuted 166 cases for children’s unauthorised absences.
“We believe pupils must attend school regularly in order to make good progress and to benefit fully from education provision.
“The local authority and the schools provide a wide range of support including the interventions of the Early Help Service for the parents who have genuine family issues that affect their children’s attendance. Kent schools’ attendance rate has improved in the past year to nearly 96 per cent.”