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Family face £240 fine for term-time holiday
8:12am Friday 28th February 2014 in News
The Toulson family have been given a £240 fine for taking their children out of school to go on holiday. Back from left - Gary Toulson, Nikki Toulson and Cloe Toulson,11. Front from left - Holly Toulson, six and Jack Toulson, five. Picture by Paul J
A FAMILY has been hit with a fine of nearly £250 after taking their children out of school for a holiday.
Mum-of-three Nikki Toulson said the family went to Lanzarote in December because their children Cloe, 11, Holly, six, and Jack, five, suffer badly from asthma and the warm weather improves their health.
They booked the holiday before a change in the law tightened up rules on term-time holidays.
She said: "We've always joked with the asthma nurse that if the NHS could prescribe holidays it would be a miracle cure.
"The weather is bad here in December and it just helps to give a bit of a break from it."
However, they now face a fine of £240.
The penalty notice, issued by Worcestershire County Council, fines each parent £60 for each absent child.
There is no fine for Jack because children legally do not have to attend school until the term after their fifth birthday.
The fine doubles if it is not paid within three weeks.
Mrs Toulson said the family could not afford to go away in peak holiday seasons.
All three children have been diagnosed as asthmatic and have been away from school through illness.
She has criticised Dine's Green primary school for a lack of support and has recently removed the children from the school to be educated at home.
Mrs Toulson said although headteacher Steve Gough told her he could not authorise the holiday absences he reassured her the family would not face any penalty - something he denies.
She also questioned why the school had not suggested any flexible schooling options or offered to assess Jack, who is worst affected, for a statement of special educational needs.
She said: "I don't think they have helped us to keep the children in school.
"I've got to the point when I'm exhausted and fed-up with battling on.
"They don't seem to think the illness of asthma is serious.
"It does kill people.
"I nearly lost two of my children to it."
However, Mr Gough said he had no choice.
He said: "All parents have been informed that under the new guidelines headteachers can't authorise holidays.
"I don't necessarily agree with what the government have done.
"There are many of our parents who find it very difficult to take their children on holiday because of the costs involved."
He added: "We have bent over backwards to help this family.
"We have lots of children here with asthma and I say to all parents, 'you have to manage it.'
"I'm an asthmatic myself and I rarely have time off from school.
"Lots of children are asthmatic and don't have time off.
"I can't raise attainment if children are not in school."
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