Nottingham City Council has welcomed clarity on parents who take their children on holiday in school term time following a Supreme Court judgment this week.

The Department for Education has supported an appeal by the Isle of Wight against a parent who had appealed against his fine for unauthorised absence from school.

A Supreme Court judge said on 6 April that the Local Authority was right to fine the parent.

The judgment has been welcomed as giving clarity to councils that are tasked with driving up school attendance.

Cllr Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills, said: “The Supreme Court’s judgment sends a clear message to parents: it is not acceptable to pick and choose when your child is in school. Remember: a pupil with 90% attendance is effectively missing one day of school every two weeks. Over 11 years of a school career, that would amount to a whole year lost. That is totally unacceptable.

“We make no apology for seeking to improve attendance in Nottingham and we’re proud of the huge strides forward in this area. Since 2009, we’ve seen our city’s overall absence rate fall from 7.2% to 4.8%, which is now only 0.2% behind the national average. This has been brought about by a concerted effort from teachers, parents and the council. It means that thousands of children are in school more often and will feed through to better exam results and improved outcomes for young people in future years.”

Nottingham City Council has mixed a zero tolerance approach to absence with a policy of reward and recognition for pupils with excellent and improved attendance.

Cllr Webster added: “Issuing fines to parents at the request of schools has been a key element of our strategy to improve attendance. Clear guidelines for schools are set by Ofsted regardless of the court ruling and there is an expectation on every school that a high level of school attendance is achieved.

“We know that the majority of parents act responsibly to ensure their children are in school when they should be. We will continue to focus on further improving school attendance in the interests of Nottingham children.”

The council is responsible for issuing penalty notices of £60 per parent per child for persistent absence. If this is not paid in 21 days, the fine doubles to £120 per parent, per child. If the fine is still unpaid, courts can impose tougher fines (with court costs) of up to £2,500 – and even have the power to issue prison sentences.

Parents can help their child’s attendance at school by:

  • Making sure their child gets to school on time
  • Not booking holidays during term time
  • Contacting the school the first day a child is off sick.

More help and advice on attendance is available from