Rise in pupils taking term-time holidays

More pupils took term-time holidays last year, according to new figures, while the proportion of parents fined for taking their youngsters out of school without permission fell.

Official figures show around one in six youngsters (16.9%) missed at least a half day of lessons during the 2016/17 academic year, compared to 14.7% the year before.

Separate data published by the Department for Education shows the number of penalty notices issued to mothers and fathers for their child's unauthorised absence dropped by 5.4% between the two academic years.

The majority of fines issued - more than three-quarters (77.5%) - were for unauthorised holidays, the statistics show.

The latest figures cover the period after a father won a high-profile High Court case in May 2016 over taking his daughter out of school for a holiday to Disney World, Florida, without permission.

It suggests that after this ruling, many mothers and fathers took decisions to take term-time breaks believing it was unlikely they would face action for doing so.

The case was later referred to the Supreme Court, where the father involved, Jon Platt, lost in April last year.

The latest Government figures show the overall unauthorised absence rate - pupils missing lessons for any reason without permission - rose from 1.1% to 1.3% between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

The rate is at its highest level since records began, according to the statistics, which cover state schools in England.

"This increase in unauthorised absence is due to an increase in absence due to family holidays that were not agreed by the school," Government statisticians said.

Separate figures on penalty notices show there were 149,321 fines handed out in 2016/17, compared with 157,879 the previous year.

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