THERE have been 50 penalty notices for non school attendance issued in Worcestershire since the law on taking children out of school changed in September.

Heads were previously able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in “special circumstances” but can now only grant absence in term time under “exceptional circumstances”.

This has led to an outcry from some parents who say their children are missing out on family holidays because they cannot afford to take them during the school holidays when travel companies often hike up prices.

The issue was in the news again recently when Stewart and Natasha Sutherland, from Telford, Shropshire, were ordered to pay £1,000 in fines and costs for taking their three children on a week-long holiday to the Greek island of Rhodes.

The couple decided to take the holiday without permission saying they had booked it before the new law came into effect.

A spokesman for Worcestershire County Council said: “50 penalty notices for non-school attendance have been issued by Worcestershire County Council on behalf of schools since September 2013.

“We are not currently pursuing anyone for non-payment of fines as they are still within the timescale for making payments.

“In the event of non-payment of fines, the council will need to start legal proceedings.”

There were 43 prosecutions brought by Worcestershire County Council for 2011/12.

Education-related penalty notices were introduced by the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, which amended section 444 of the Education Act 1996 to allow parents to be issued with a penalty where they failed to ensure their child of compulsory school age (five to 16) and school-registered regularly attended school.

However, despite the furore over the latest changes, the Department for Education has argued it has given schools more freedom to set their own term dates – potentially meaning parents could book cheaper holidays.