West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper believes confusion reigns over the rules on term time holiday fines, how they are applied and who is responsible for the rules.
In recent weeks, MP Rosie spoke out over a farcical constituent’s case in which three adults were fined £60 each for taking one child out of school on holiday in term time. At the time Rosie said that the use of fines in this way ‘appears to be nothing more than a money making racket.’
Since then Rosie Cooper MP has raised her concerns directly with the local education authority, Lancashire County Council. On 11 July 2016 she also raised her concerns with education ministers in a parliamentary debate on School Penalty Fines and Authorised Absence.
Following her interventions on behalf of West Lancashire families, MP Rosie believes there is a fundamental lack of transparency, fairness and consistency in how the fines are being applied.
Commenting on the continued confusion on the issue, Rosie Cooper MP said:
“There is an unbelievable amount of finger pointing and ‘it’s not us guv’ when it comes to fining parents for taking their children on holiday in term time.
“On several occasions, in letters, in meetings and in a parliamentary debate I’ve asked who is responsible for the current rules and how they are applied. Between government ministers, local authorities and schools they each blame someone else disowning any responsibility.
“Schools are enforcing the rules set down in the education authority’s code of conduct. The education authority is acting in line with government policy. Round and round we go. Never getting to the end.
“This situation is made worse by the fact that depending on which school you attend and in which education authority you are in the rules are applied differently.
“We’ve reached a point at which this system is in chaos.
“I’m not advocating that children should be taken out of school in term time. There just needs to be clarity on what the rules are and the consequences of breaking these rules which is done in a transparent way and applied fairly and consistently.
“The present farce needs to be brought to an end and quickly.”