Hundreds of Huddersfield parents have backed calls to scrap term time holiday fines.

They have signed a petition calling for a change in the rules as Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman joined the clamour for action.

The veteran MP said Muslims in his constituency are put under “great pressure” to take their children out of school for holidays during term time. He called for a fundamental reform of the rules as the Government insisted children must stay in school.

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.

Mr Sheerman said in the Commons: “Isn’t it a fact that this is a very serious fundamental problem that we still squeeze the summer holidays into about a six-week period when British Airways charge the Earth to go anywhere, Center Parcs will treble their rates - it’s a very serious problem that we should tackle for everyone’s benefit.

“I’m on the side of being tough, I have constituents with great pressure from the Muslim community, especially from Pakistan, to take their children out and they are the very children that have been suffering.

“So I am on the side of being tough but let’s look at this in a more fundamental way please.”

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The nationwide petition was created by father Dave Hedley, who was fined for taking his children out of school while his wife was treated for breast cancer.

So far the petition has more than 168,000 signatures, nearly 2,000 of those were from people across Kirklees and Calderdale.

Some 1,799 people from Huddersfield and neighbouring areas signed the petition.

Batley and Spen had the highest number of signatures, with 572, while 494 people in Dewsbury backed the campaign.

People living in the Calder Valley provided 301 signatures and 244 similarly came from the Colne Valley.

Hundreds of Huddersfield parents have backed calls to scrap term time holiday fines.
Hundreds of Huddersfield parents have backed calls to scrap term time holiday fines.

The petition’s soaring popularity follows headlines last week about Isle of Wight dad Jon Platt, who won a High Court case after being fined for taking his daughter out of school for a holiday.

An Examiner report last month revealed that 2,341 families from Kirklees schools had been fined for taking their children on holiday in term time over the 2014/15 school year.

The figure means 60 fines were dished out every week throughout the borough’s 180 schools.

One Mirfield mum, who asked not to be named, ended up with a £1,000 bill and an appearance at Kirklees Magistrates after ignoring the £60 fee.

Hundreds of Huddersfield parents have backed calls to scrap term time holiday fines.
Huddersfield parents have backed calls to scrap term time holiday fines.

A Kirklees spokesperson said at the time: “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.”

The Government insisted it will do “everything in its power” to stop children being taken out of school for unauthorised term-time holidays after a High Court ruled in favour of a Mr Platt who took his daughter to Florida.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the ruling represented a “significant threat” to the Government’s drive to keep children in school.

Meanwhile he warned that the UK must not return to a “Dickensian world where the needs of industry and commerce” trump the need to educate amid fears that the current system of school holidays hurts the tourism industry.