Parent makes stand against ‘unfair’ school holiday fines

Darren Cox wants to make a stand against 'unfair' fines given to parents taking their children out of school in term time for holidays.''He was hoping to pay the ?120 fine in pennies. ANL-151216-142500001
Darren Cox wants to make a stand against 'unfair' fines given to parents taking their children out of school in term time for holidays.''He was hoping to pay the ?120 fine in pennies. ANL-151216-142500001

A parent has vowed to campaign against what he feels are unnecessary fines on parents who take their children on holiday during term time.

Darren Cox, from Sudbury, runs his own market stall, Cox’s Fruit and Veg at both Sudbury and Chelmsford markets.

This leaves him with very little time in the year to take holiday, having to shut down the stall while he is away.

After not having a break in 2014 Mr Cox, 46, decided to take his wife and four sons to Mexico for two weeks, as a last family holiday before his eldest sons go off to run their own businesses.

However, the memories from the holiday have been soured by the £120 fine given to Mr Cox and his wife Jill for his son’s unauthorised absence from Ormiston Sudbury Academy.

“I want to make a stand. The laws are not right and not fair,” said Mr Cox. “I’m not going to let this lie.”

His initial idea was to pay the fine in pennies, but this was halted by the 1971 Coin Act. However, he still hopes others will join him, saying only by making a stand would change be possible.

He describes the law as “cheap”, with parents unable to appeal due to court costs and the risk of a criminal record, saying it is easier just to pay.

He said schools’ hands were also tied, forced to follow through with Government regulations.

Fully supportive of the school, Mr Cox said he understood that it could not give him authorised leave but not others.

“I completely respect that”, he said. “I would rather write a cheque out for the school for £200. It’s not about the money.”

“It was very important for us to have a family holiday together.”

In total his son missed eight days of school, with the rest of the holiday falling within the school’s October half-term.

“His attendance in the term before the holiday was 100 per cent,” said Mr Cox.

He said there was no compassion or flexibility in the rules.

Some trades can be given authorised term-time leave, but, although Mr Cox is restricted by the family business, he receives no such dispensation.

Academy principal Caroline Wilson said: “With all academies and schools in the country, we work within the Government guidelines.

“We appreciate it can sometimes be difficult for families and I am grateful to parents for working with me to keep our attendance above the national average.”