Council collected thousands in school absence fines

The Isle of Wight Council made more than £100,000 last year from fining parents and carers whose children had unauthorised absences.

Despite the number of truancy penalty notices (TPN) issued on the Island dropping, more people have failed to pay them, resulting in legal action being taken.

In 2018/19, 97 cases went to court because parents and carers failed to pay the £120 fine in 28 days.

A Freedom of Information request by The Knowledge Academy found the council received £105,420 from fines, paid before and after the 28 days.

In 2017/18, 2,030 TPNs were given to parents and carers of students compared to 1,920 in 2018/19.

Fines for a child skipping school without authorisation start at £60 if paid within 21 days but rise if they are not paid within 28 days or longer and parents are threatened with a £1,000 fine in court.

Although not every court case ends in fines — parents have previously been given community orders and conditionally discharged sentences.

A total of 211 people failed to pay the fine in 21 days in 2018/19 compared to only 229 the year before.

An Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to securing high attendance from all pupils and take our statutory responsibility in this area very seriously.

The local authority issues penalty notices on behalf of head teachers and it is a head teacher’s decision as to whether to authorise term-time leave. The law allows them to do so if they deem it to be in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

The council is not allowed to make any profit from fine income. The proceeds contribute to the legal costs of issuing penalty notices and other work related to promoting good school attendance.

The DfE has issued guidance on attendance and the Isle of Wight Council has a statutory duty to implement it in full.

The council recognises that regular attendance at school is essential for pupils’ learning and attainment and creates more opportunities for their future. We continue to urge parents to ensure that their children maintain a high level of school attendance.”