Case dropped against Kettering family fined for taking children on term-time holiday

The Caffertys - Jake (four),  Tom, Charlotte (11), Marisa and Sean (eight)
The Caffertys - Jake (four), Tom, Charlotte (11), Marisa and Sean (eight)
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A Kettering family were taken to court for taking their kids on holiday during term-time – only to have the case against them dropped at the last minute.

Tom and Marisa Cafferty took their children Charlotte, 11, Sean, eight, and four-year-old Jake to Florida for two weeks in April for their grandfather’s 70th birthday.

The two older children attend Millbrook Junior School which, in line with national education policy, rejected the parents’ request for their children to be allowed to be absent from school and informed Northamptonshire County Council.

The county council then issued the parents with a £240 fine, which they refused to pay.

Dad Tom, 37, said: “The children’s grandparents live in the USA and are unable to travel for health reasons.

“It was a whole family holiday and my brother’s kids live up north, where it was half-term, so it was either us or them.

“We were given a £240 fine and I said there was absolutely no way we were paying that, so it was doubled.”

Parents who take take their children out of school without approval are fined £60 per child per parent.

When the fine was doubled the Caffertys still refused to pay, so they were charged with failing to ensure their children regularly attended school.

But when they went to Northampton Magistrates’ Court last week for their hearing, the case against them was dropped.

Tom added: “They tried to say the kids weren’t at school regularly, which was absolute rubbish.

“The kids have got a flawless attendance record.

“I said that I would plead that there was no case to answer and just before we were supposed to go in we were told the case had been dropped.

“Obviously we were pleased but the whole thing was a waste of time.”

Under sentencing guidelines, the couple faced a fine of up to £2,500 or three months in prison.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We cannot comment on individual cases.

“However, we work closely with schools and other education providers to ensure good attendance.

“Changes to national legislation introduced in September 2013 means parents are no longer entitled to take their child on holiday during term time and parents will be fined for taking their child out of school for holidays of five days or more without the consent of the school.

“While we always seek to work with families and teachers to improve attendance, The Education Act 1996 makes it a criminal offence for a parent to fail to secure their child’s regular attendance at the school and we will take action if parents are failing to ensure their child attends school.”

Millbrook Junior School have been approached for a comment.