THE number of families being fined for taking children out of school during term-time has risen sharply. But one Bolton school is bucking the trend and leading the way nationally.


A STAGGERING one in eight pupils missed the equivalent of a month of schooling in Bolton, shock new figures show.

And an above-average number of holidays in term time is being blamed for the numbers of children being classed as persistent absentees.

Bolton Council is hoping new measures introduced in September will help tackle the number of children regularly absent from school.

So far this academic year the council has issued more than double the fines than in the whole of 2017/18.

Figures published by the Department for Education show that the borough has the joint second highest number of pupils in Greater Manchester classed as persistent absentees ­— only Salford has slightly more.

In the last academic year, 12.6 per cent ­— 5,595 pupils  ­— missed at least 19 days of school in 2017/2018.

This was up on the previous year’s 11.3 per cent.

This number of persistent absentees ­— those who miss ten per cent or more of school ­— is higher than the national average of 11.2 per cent and the North West average of 11.6 per cent.

But figures for overall, authorised and unauthorised absences were in line with the regional and national figures.

The rise in the number of persistent absences is said to be due to changes in higher than average number of unauthorised term time holidays.

However the town is also home to a school which has one of the best attendances in the country.

Eden Boys’ School ­— Bolton’s top performing state school ­— has one of the best attendance records in the country after figures showed it has the eighth lowest pupil absence rate in the country.

Pupil absences data for the Wolfenden Street school for the 2017/18 academic year shows that the school’s overall pupil absence rate of just 2.5 per cent is well below the national average of 5.5 per cent.

In Bolton the absence rate for 2017/2018 was five per cent.

The secret to good attendance records, according to the head, is making the school an “enjoyable place of learning”.

Principal Shabir Fazal said: “I am incredibly proud that Eden Boys’ School, Bolton has one of the lowest absence rate in the country. The well-being of our pupils is paramount to us. Our team of staff is committed to creating a school environment where pupils want to be and where they enjoy learning. Well done to our pupils, parents and staff for achieving such outstanding levels of attendance.”

Eden Boys’ School is part of Star Academies and in total eight of its schools have been named in the top 50 schools in England with the lowest absence rates.

The Bolton school opened as a faith school four years ago and is the number one state school in the borough based on its GCSE results which showed 90 per cent of pupils made the grade. The school was just one of two schools in Bolton where children were found to have made well above average progress since starting school.

The school’s progress score saw it named in the top 70 schools nationally.

Mufti Hamid Patel CBE, chief executive of Star Academies said: “It is no coincidence that three of our secondary schools that are in the top one per cent for absences are also in the top five per cent for academic achievement based on Progress 8 scores.

“It has been proven that there is a strong correlation between good levels of attendance and high levels of attainment. Our teaching staff work hard to plan and deliver engaging sessions for our pupils to inspire them to want to be in school each day. We are also fortunate to have the support of our parents and carers who encourage and ensure their children turn up on time every day, ready to learn.”

Bolton Muslim Girls School was the only other school where young people make well above average progress. The school recorded 87 per cent of pupils leaving with at least good passes in five or more GCSEs including English and maths. It was ranked number two among Bolton’s state schools.

Bolton Council has issued more than 2,600 penalty notices this academic year to date. For the same period in the 2017/18 academic year, 860 were issued.

READ MORE: Why record number of parents are being fined for term time holidays

READ MORE: Crackdown on families going on holiday during term time

Nationally the number of parents fined for their children’s poor attendance at school has risen by 74.7 per cent over 12 months to 260,877 in 2017/18. Some 85.4 per cent of the fines were issued for unauthorised family holiday absence. The increase happened after a dad lost a Supreme Court case over the holidays issue. Lancashire County Council issued the most fines to parents for taking children out of school for family holidays of any education authority in the county.

In 2017/18 it gave 7,575 penalty notices for non-attendance for that reason out of a total of 7,891 issued for pupil absences.

A county council spokesman said: “As Lancashire has more schools than any other local authority we are always likely to issue more fines. We encourage schools to work closely with parents to reduce unauthorised absences. Our aim is not to punish parents but to ensure children receive a good education.”


FAMILY holidays during term time are said to be responsible for more pupils skipping class regularly.

Bolton Council lowered its threshold for fining families at the start of this academic year — and seen a huge increase in the number of penalty notices being issued.

A spokesman for Bolton Council said: "The level of persistent absentees in Bolton is largely due to a higher than average number of unauthorised term time holidays.
"In response to this, members approved changes to the penalty notice (PN) scheme, which came into effect in September 2018.
“The threshold for issuing a PN was reduced from 20 missed sessions (10 days) per term to 10 sessions (5 days).
“This move was taken after consultation with headteachers and brings us in line with the majority of other local authority areas.
“It will take time for this change to reflect in the statistics, but this year has already seen twice as many PNs handed out as the whole of the of the 2017/18 academic year.”

A fixed penalty notice for persistent unauthorised absence is £60 per parent and per child if paid within 21 days. This rises to £120 if paid after this but before 28 days. If the notice remains unpaid, the local authority may consider legal action.
Any money generated from penalty notices is invested back into the department to fund schemes aimed at improving attendance.