UK Parents Face Fines for Children’s Tardiness in School

Category : Education/Family

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. tardiness / ˈtɑr di nɪs / (n) – the state of not being on time

    The school is strict with imposing rules on tardiness.

  2. authorization / ˌɔ θər əˈzeɪ ʃən / (n) – permission from someone with power or high position

    You need authorization from the principal to leave the school during class hours.

  3. compel / kəmˈpɛl / (v) – to force someone to do something

    The bad behavior of the student compelled the teacher to suspend him.

  4. roll call / roʊl kɔl / (n) – the act of calling a list of names to check attendance

    He arrived after the roll call, so the teacher marked him late.

  5. punctuality / ˌpʌŋk tʃuˈæl ɪ ti / (n) – the state of being on time

    Students are given rewards for punctuality.


Read the text below.

Penalties for unauthorized absences in UK schools are now also being imposed on tardiness.

In 2013, the UK Department for Education imposed guidelines on penalizing unauthorized absences. Under these guidelines, students can be absent only if they are sick or if they received authorization from the school’s head teacher.

The guidelines became a subject of controversy when a parent refused to pay a £60 fine for taking his daughter to Florida without asking the school’s permission. After the case was taken to court, he lost and was compelled by the Supreme Court to pay £2,000.

Recently, the guidelines were expanded to include penalties for tardiness. Now, several schools around the United Kingdom are also imposing fines on parents if their children come to school late.

In some schools in Essex and Wessex County, parents can be fined from £60 to £120 if their children frequently arrive at school late. In Warwickshire County, parents will also be fined if a child misses the roll call.

The expansion of the guidelines garnered mixed reactions. One supporter pointed out that the penalties for tardiness are meant to give the students the best possible education. Another supporter argued that punctuality will help students develop skills they can use to excel in their future jobs.

On the other hand, a critic of the guideline said that it shows how some authorities are unaware of the situation in some schools. She said that many families are working hard to balance getting to work, bringing one child to a school and another to a different school, and having to go through heavy traffic every day.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you agree with imposing fines for tardiness in school? Why or why not?
• Do you think that this law should also be imposed in schools in your country? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What is the importance of being punctual? Discuss.
• Do you think that children will bring their attitude in school (e.g. being punctual) to their future work? Discuss.

Category : Education/Family