A child who is regularly tardy to class may result in serious consequences for his or her parents.
Winter Gardens Academy in Canvey Island, Essex has notified parents that the council will issue discipline for parents of students who repeatedly arrive after 9 am.
The £60 fee is per parent, per child, and doubles if not paid promptly. As a result, a family of four would owe £240 if both children were late.
Refusal to pay could result in court appointments or jail time.
The reaction to this new rule is varied.
Grandmother Anne Bull said, “It’s bad enough them getting fines when they go on holiday. It is a step too far, people are struggling as it is.”
Gary Underdone added, “Absolutely ridiculous. It’s just a money making opportunity yet again.”
Others have lauded the school’s harsh stance on attendance.
One mum said, “To be honest I think people should be fined if they are late, there’s no excuse for lateness.
“It’s not as if you can just keep turning up late to work, how can you not get your kids to school on time?”
In a newsletter sent to students’ parents, Headteacher Catherine Stalham said, “Any children arriving after 9am will be marked as late on the register as from April 1.
“Continuous late comers may be issued with a fixed penalty notice.”
The Essex County Council’s ‘Missing Education and Child Employment Services’ department will issue these fines, along with the already-controversial holiday fines.
Parents will have 21 days to pay before the fee doubles, and delaying more than 28 days will result in potential court prosecution. Continued nonpayment can even result in jail.
However, a council spokesman said, “It’s not a case of being fined after just being 10 minutes late once, for example. It’s about when kids are turning up hugely late, regularly.”
This is hardly the first time a rule like this has been issued in the UK.
Ray Howard, a local councilor, has promised to assist parents in contesting fines. He said, “If a parent feels they are being unfairly prosecuted they should come to me as their county councilor.”
The council, who will be notified about late students by the school’s headteacher, defended the move.
Spokesman Ray Gooding added, “There are clear links between attendance and attainment, and every lesson really does count.”