Parents in Milton Keynes could be fined £60 if their children are late for class under a new truancy policy.
In an attempt to improve punctuality at schools in the Milton Keynes area, headteachers at two schools have taken action to punish parents if their children are consistently late.
They have pledged to issue a £60 fine if a pupil incurs a minimum of 10 late marks in a 12-week term. If the parents do not pay this within 21 days, it can be doubled at the discretion of the head.
The new policy has provoked a strong response from parents, with the majority believing that the lack of understanding could cause friction between them and the school.
Georgina Hodgkinson, 40, said:"There needs to be a deterrent but I think it puts lots of pressure on parents and does break the commitment between the school and families.
"If you have got, like we have, children in different schools, you are trying to navigate logistics from one to the other and there are always going to be some problems."
Headteachers have had the power to issue penalties to students who regularly skip lessons since 2003, but Milton Keynes Council have given both schools the go-ahead to treat late registration as form of skipping lessons, with Ofsted inspections highlighting both schools' attendances as "inadequate".
Despite approving the move, the Council suggested that fines should only be deployed as an extreme measure. A spokeperson said: "Our figures show that in the last academic year, two fixed penalty fines were issued in relation to persistent late attendance by pupils. In a majority of cases, a warning letter has proved to be enough to stop the issue."
However, the school defended its new policy and claims that the implementation of the rule has improved attendance after the Ofsted inspection.
"The link between good attendance and pupils achieving well at school is clear," the school said.
"During the recent Ofsted monitoring inspection it was noted that “strategies to improve attendance and punctuality have resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of pupils who come to school on time.
"At the end of the autumn term 2013, 353 pupils at Emerson Valley School received certificates for 100 per cent punctuality. This is a big improvement on previous years and has been achieved through working with our families.’
Statistics show that the crackdown on a lack of discipline in schools has produced a rise in the number of parents convicted for allowing their children to skip lessons with 10,185 sentenced, representing a 3.5 per cent increase on the previous year.
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