EDUCATION chiefs are to hand out “punitive” fines to families of children who skip school from September.

The parents of students who play truant or persistently turn up late at school will receive £60 fines, as will families who take their children on holiday during term time.

The new Gwent charges will rise to £120 if unpaid after four weeks and parents who refuse to pay up could end up in court.

The policy is set out in a new code of conduct produced by the five local education authorities in Gwent.

Torfaen council Cabinet will be asked to approve the code of practice at Pontypool Civic Centre on Tuesday [July 15].

Executive member for children and young people, Cllr David Yeowell, said: "Attendance in school is essential to improve children’s educational prospects and it reduces the risk of absence leading to criminal or anti-social behaviour.

"Fixed penalty notices are just one of the sanctions available for poor attendance and offer an effective intervention for improving levels of unauthorised absence before it becomes entrenched and persistent while reducing the need for lengthy and costly prosecutions.

"Fines are punitive by nature and this will cause financial difficulty for some, but parents can avoid that difficulty by working with the council to address issues early and by ensuring their children attend school regularly."

Education bosses will only consider issuing fines when students lose at least 10 sessions or five school days due to unauthorised absence.

Parents will be able to complain to the Education Welfare Service or opt to face proceedings in magistrates’ courts.

LEAs will only be able to use money raised from fines to cover administration costs and the balance will be passed on to Welsh Government.

A consultation exercise conducted in Torfaen found that schools would need support to ensure that attendance policies are appropriately changed to reflect the introduction of the fines.

The consultation also found that Torfaen council should do as much as possible to support families with complex problems, including poor attendance.

A council spokesman said yesterday that failure to introduce the fines would be a breach of the Education (Penalty Notices) (Wales) Regulations 2013.