LANCASHIRE parents have topped a nationwide table of those fined for taking their children out of school during term time last year.

The number of fines issued to parents of children in Lancashire County Council-controlled schools rocketed from 1,125 in 2012/13 to 3,106 in 2013/14 - a year-on-year increase of 176 per cent.

Blackburn with Darwen (BwD) Council collected 456 fines last year, an 85 per cent jump from its 2012/13 figures.

The county council, which maintains 647 schools, received more than £129,000 in fines last year, and almost £50,000 the previous year.

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “As Lancashire County Council is one of the biggest councils in the country, and has more schools than any other local authority, then it stands to reason that we will be near the top of any kind of table based purely on numbers.

“I must emphasize once again that these are national regulations which were brought in by the Department for Education last September, and which headteachers must follow. These regulations place very strict limits on the circumstances in which children can be taken out of school.”

Tighter rules, which restrict parents taking children out of school for holidays during term-time to ‘exceptional circumstances’, were introduced by the Government in September last year.

Parents are fined £60 per parent per child per period of absence, which rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

A survey of 118 English local authorities, carried out by the BBC, found that just under 64,000 fines were handed out between September 2013 and July 2014, compared to 37,650 in the previous academic year - a rise of almost 70 per cent.

Coun Dave Harling, executive member for schools and education at BwD Council, said: “The government changed the rules last September so that schools lost their discretion to allow 10 days holiday during term time.

“These penalty notices are issued at the request of our schools and the money received in fines covers administration costs, with any additional funds returned to the Exchequer. However, we do know that good attendance is a significant factor in educational achievement.”