The threat of a £60 fine is not deterring parents from taking their children on holiday during term time.

Figures released by Kirklees Council show thousands have broken the rules across the borough.

Laws brought in three years ago gave councils powers to issue penalty notices to parents who take their youngsters on holiday without permission.

Much like speeding tickets, those who ignore the fines can end up in court.

Kirklees Magistrates' Court, Huddersfield
Kirklees Magistrates' Court, Huddersfield

In the 2014/15 school year, a stunning 2,341 families in Kirklees were issued with a fine by the council for going on their jollies without approval.

With the school year being 39 weeks long it means about 60 fines were dished out every week across the borough’s 180 schools.

Some parents have revealed ignoring the rap on the wrist escalated into a much bigger fine and landed them in court.

One Mirfield mum said she was slapped with a £1,000 bill and a hearing at magistrates court after she refused to pay the £60 fee.

In cases where there are two parents or guardians, both can be hit with a fine.

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The fines aren’t just for older children with another parent telling the Examiner they were fined for taking their Reception class tot out of school on holiday.

However, the Examiner understands the rules aren’t enforced by all headteachers with some turning a blind eye to it in a bid to keep parents happy.

Others said they knew loopholes to get them the permission they needed from their little-ones’ school.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said: “Successive governments have been concerned at the number of days lost as a result of parents taking their children out of school and, significantly, in September 2013 the legislation around ‘leave of absence’ was strengthened.

“The clear message from the Department for Education was that term time was for education and that only in exceptional circumstances should leave during term time be authorised.

“This resulted in a significant increase in the number of fines across the country and the number of fines in Kirklees followed this trend.”

Holiday costs: term time vs school holidays

The only exceptions where a child can miss school lawfully are when the child is too ill to attend school, or if the parent has had advance consent from the school rendering their absence as “authorised”.

Nationwide during the 2014/2015 academic year, 98 Local Education Authorities issued 50,414 fines for children being taken out of school for term-time breaks.

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But with the cost of going away during school holidays rising dramatically, an increasing number of parents are taking their children out of school anyway.

High season prices can be as much as ten times the price of the low-season deals available to those without children.

In order to have consent from the school a written application must be made in advance addressed to the headteacher of the school.

Only in exceptional circumstances will a head teacher authorise absence during term time, including: acute family trauma, terminal illness or death of a family member or if a family member serves in the armed forces.

The decision of when to grant an authorised absence, and for how long, ultimately lies with the headteacher, who must submit details of each child’s attendance to the local authority and can make recommendations for sanction where attendance is low or absence is unauthorised.

The local authority will then decide whether to issue a fine or sanction with an order.

They have various powers that can be used, particularly where no good reason is given to justify the child’s absence. Sanctions are applied on a discretionary basis and include fines of £60, rising to £120 in the event of non-payment within 21 days.

Notice of intended prosecution can be issued if payment is not made after 28 days.

If the case escalates to court action and if found guilty, parents can end up with a criminal record, face a fine of up to £2,500, and even imprisonment of up to three months.

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Should kids miss school to go on holiday?