A primary school teacher is being taken to court for pulling her son out of class so he could visit China during school term time.
Catherine Clifford was given a £120 fine by Medway Council for letting her son Matthew go on a guided tour of China with a local family in February this year.
Mrs Clifford is now facing a legal battle after refusing to pay the fine because her son, who is doing his GCSEs next year, missed class at Rochester Math School.
Catherine Clifford was given a £120 fine for letting her son Matthew go on a guided tour of China with a local family
She said it was hypocritical she had been fined for letting her son go on the trip as the school goes on trips to China during term time. She added the cricket team recently travelled to Barbados.
Rochester Math School refused to confirm whether they had sent children on trips to China during term time when approached by MailOnline.
Mrs Clifford, who teaches at a primary school overseen by the same council she is facing a fine from, let her son go on the trip to experience Chinese culture and insists it was a learning exercise rather than a family holiday.
Mrs Clifford, from Rochester, said: ‘I said it’s not a family holiday as none of his family went.
‘A friend from school was visiting Chinese relatives, they were taking the boys to the Great Wall of China and he experienced being part of a Chinese family at Chinese New Year.
‘It was the year before his exams and then he’s going to have A-levels.
‘After that he might never be friends with another Chinese person. It was an experience he couldn’t miss.’
Mrs Clifford added her son was a diligent student who had already caught up his work.
The school has refused to back down on the issue, claiming its policies must be ‘consistent’.
The Rochester Math school in Kent refused to confirm whether they had been on school trips to China during term time when approached by MailOnline
A letter from pastoral support officer, Mrs P Lovelock said: ‘Whilst we recognise the educational value of Matthew’s holiday we are more concerned about the potential loss of education during his absence.
‘We also acknowledge Matthew has caught up the work missed and that as a bright pupil his loss of knowledge will be minimised.
‘However, as explained earlier, we must remain consistent in following our policies.’
British parents have been fined £24 million in the past three years for failing to keep their children in school.
A study conducted in 2007 showed seven out of ten parents who had taken their children out of school without consent had been fined by councils.
Yet half of those claimed they would do it again because the money they saved avoiding the high cost of family trips during school holidays.
Four MILLION school days are lost in a year to unauthorised holidays as record numbers of parents take their children away during term-time despite facing fines of up to £120
Almost four million school days were lost in one academic year as parents took their children on holiday in term-time, figures have revealed.
The statistics for 2015/16 show that some 3.65million days were lost to unauthorised holidays in England, an increase of half a million on the previous year.
What the Department for Education says
You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.
It’s up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted.
You can be fined £60 by your local council, which rises to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days.
If you don’t pay the fine after 28 days you may be prosecuted for your child’s absence from school.