South Derbyshire parents are being warned they face a fine of up to £120 for each child if they are regularly late to school.

Derbyshire County Council said that parents and carers face receiving a penalty notice if a pupil is "persistently late without an acceptable reason" as schools get tough on lateness.

Councillor Alex Dale, the council's cabinet member for young people, said: "Derbyshire County Council is clear that it is the responsibility of parents and carers to ensure their children attend school regularly and on time, in accordance with school rules.

"Our position has for some time been that, if a child is frequently late, after the register has closed, their parents or carers could receive a penalty notice.

South Derbyshire parents will face £120 if their children are regularly late for school

"A school can ask the council to issue a notice if they believe a pupil has been persistently late without an acceptable reason.

"If a pupil is just a few minutes late each day, it can add up to days of lost learning time a year, which has a real potential to affect academic achievement when coupled with disruption caused to the teacher and the rest of the class every time it happens. This is why we take it so seriously.

"Only a very small number of pupils in Derbyshire are regularly late for school and we appreciate the support we have from parents and carers to help us keep these figures as low as possible, but we are also clear about the potential consequences for those whose children are frequently missing for the morning register."

The Derbyshire County Council penalty notice is £120 per parent per child if paid within 28 days but this is reduced to £60 per parent per child if paid within 21 days.

Schools and councils elsewhere in the country, such as in Essex, Hampshire and West Midlands, have started following Derbyshire's lead and using the unauthorised absence penalties issued for missing school to also include lateness.

Tom Bennett, the Government’s behaviour Tsar, said the parents of teenagers who regularly arrived late for school should consider walking with them.

"Most pupils would rather lose an arm than be seen walking up to school with their parents," he said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Pupils being punctual to lessons not only benefits their learning but also helps them develop core skills which will stand them in good stead for future employment.

"It is right that schools monitor patterns of lateness and address it where it becomes a concern. It is a matter for individual schools to decide when to close their register and take action as needed, provided it is in line with the local authority's code of conduct."

Schools have had the power to fine the families of truants since Labour brought in the laws in 2003.

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