MORE THAN 6,600 Hampshire parents were fined for taking their children on term-time holidays in 2017-18.

Nationally the number of fines issued for taking pupils away when they should have been in school rose to almost 223,000 - a rise of 93% on the previous 12 months.

The Department for Education (DfE) confirmed that “unauthorised family holiday absence” was the most common reason for attendance-related fines.

Councils can order parents to hand over £60 for each child taken out of school without permission. The figure rises to £120 if the fine is not paid within 21 days and continued non-payment can result in prosecution.

In 2017-18 260,877 penalty notices were issued for unauthorised absence from school but just over one in ten were withdrawn.

New Forest Post:

In Hampshire 6,616 parents had to pay a financial penalty, which equates to one fine for every 1,000 pupils in the county.

Isle of Wight dad Jon Platt said he felt partly responsible for the huge increase in the number of fines handed out across the country.

Mr Platt was fined for taking his daughter to Disneyland in Florida during term time. He challenged the penalty and embarked on a long legal battle but the Supreme Court ruled against him in 2017.

He is reported to have put his children into private education, thus eliminating the risk of further fines from his local council.

Many parents go away with their children in term time to avoid the huge price hikes imposed by holiday firms during school holidays.

New Forest Post:

But Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, said term-time breaks caused disruption to the absent pupil as well as the rest of the class.

“Teachers are distracted from their regular teaching by having to help the absentees to catch up,” he said.

The National Association of Head Teachers said children should miss as little school time as possible but claimed the current system of fines was a blunt instrument which drove a wedge between schools and families.

The association said the real issue was holiday prices, which put families “between a rock and a hard place”.

In 2013 the government tightened the regulations, banning parents from taking their children on term-time breaks in all but exceptional circumstances.

Last night a DfE spokesman said: “We have put head teachers back in control “