School Penalty Fines and Authorised Absence — [Mr David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:42 pm on 11th July 2016.

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Photo of Angela Rayner Angela Rayner Shadow Minister (Equalities Office) (Women and Equalities), Shadow Secretary of State for Education 5:42 pm, 11th July 2016

I make it absolutely clear—Members have already done so—that headteachers have discretion where there are exceptional circumstances. Headteachers have the power and discretion to sanction absences. The difficulty is the definition of exceptional circumstances, as we heard in some of the contributions. According to the proposer of the petition, a cancer diagnosis apparently does not constitute exceptional circumstances, which is deeply regrettable. I sincerely hope that that incident is as rare as parents taking their children on unauthorised absences.