The Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed last week that the number of fines issued to parents in Cheshire in the first year following a high-profile court battle soared compared to previous years.
Recent Government figures show that 4,147 fines were issued in 2017-18 by Cheshire West and East councils combined – compared to 354 in 2016-17, 1,603 in 2015-16, 2,237 in 2014-15 and 1,636 in 2013-14.
The sharp rise in fines followed the legal battle involving Isle of Wight Council and Jon Platt, who was prosecuted by the Supreme Court for taking his daughter on holiday during term time in 2015.
Under legislation, councils have the power to issue a £60 fine to parents, rising to £120 if the parent has not paid within 21 days.
If a parent still has not paid after 28 days, they can be prosecuted with a fine of up to £2,500, a community order or a jail sentence of up to three months.
Parents can also be ordered to go to parenting classes.
Esther McVey, Conservative MP for Tatton, welcomes the role of headteachers in having the final say on whether parents should be fined.
She added: “I am generally supportive of the rules around holidays in term time and do understand the disruption to the individual, the class and the teacher that it can cause when a pupil is on holiday during term time. Improving attendance and reducing absences has been a key focus for the Government because poor attendance can have an impact on pupils’ attainment. That said, I do think individual circumstance should play a part in the decision – whether that is the age of the child, time in the academic year or the nature of the trip – and that headteachers should have the ultimate say as they know the child and the degree of interruption to their education missing school may cause.”