Fined for being late to school? Good!

*Warning. Warning. Rant Alert. Rant Alert* 

Last week it was all over the news and social media about two schools in Milton Keynes who were planning to fine children (or rather their parents) for being late for school . . .

Now this article, in true Daily Mail style, is somewhat inflammatory in my opinion – the dramatic headline of “Headteacher imposes £60 fines on EACH parent if their child is a few minutes late for school . . . with a find DOUBLING to £120 if not paid within 21 days” is of course designed to to draw you in and get your back up.  How dare they fine parents for not getting their children to school on time. Isn’t fining them for taking holidays in term time enough?

On face value it sounds pretty unfair doesn’t it – fined for being a few minutes late?  What about if you get stuck in traffic? What about those one off mornings when everything just seems to go wrong? Or what if your newborn baby fills their nappy or needs feeding just before you’re about to leave the house? (This happened to me more than once in the last couple of weeks before Christmas!)

But actually when you read the article and consider the facts, I think it’s actually quite sensible.  We’re not talking about those one off mornings where you got stuck in traffic or you couldn’t find your child’s shoes (yes that was us this morning – he went to school in his wellies and got there on time).  What we’re talking about is being persistently late.

Parents will be fined if their children miss registration 10 times in a term
TEN TIMES in a term.  That’s being late for school TEN TIMES in around 12 weeks. Being late almost once a week! That’s not a one off. If you’re getting stuck in traffic that often then perhaps you need to set off earlier?  If you can’t find your shoes that often then make sure you put them away properly the night before.  Surely its not hard?  But further to that we’re not talking about being “a few minutes late” – if your child is late enough to miss registration then, for the most part, you’re looking at being about 20 minutes late.  The majority of schools don’t class a child as “late” on the register if they are not in the line first thing, they are classed as late at the end of registration and this is usually around 20 minutes from the start of the school day.  So if you look at it again we’re now talking about being over 20 minutes late, 10 times in 12 weeks.  Over 200 minutes of learning time missed in a term – that’s almost 3.5 hours – half a day?! Half a day’s learning missed – and important learning too.  Those “few minutes” are vital – the start of the lesson where much of the teaching and instruction happens before children go off to explore and develop on what they have just been taught – how can you expect your child to progress if they persistently miss important parts of their lessons?  And how is it fair if your child’s teacher has to reteach something especially for one child every day when they should be focussing their attention on the rest of the class who were actually able to make it to school on time?
So you know what? If the threat of a £60 fine gets those parents out of bed a bit earlier then good! I’m all for it.
Photo Credit: Moonrhino via Compfight cc
(I should add that I’d like to think there would be a certain level of common sense applied to this with cases being reviewed on an individual basis and fines levied as a last resort after all other avenues of support have been exhausted!)
I’d love to know what you think about this? Harsh or fair?


  1. Katherine E
    January 27, 2014 / 3:32 pm

    I agree with you. I've never been late in getting my daughter to nursery (or picking her up afterwards!) even when my other baby was newborn we always got there on time. I think parents need to be responsible.

    However, there are a couple of scenarios I wonder about. 1 is if a childminder is late taking your child to school. We have a childminder when I work (I go back in march) and she often runs late – would this be me fined or her? And, with older children (pre teens and above) I think it would be unfair for parents to be given the blame if they have tried to get their child to school.

    But yes, n primary school parents should get their kids to school. Full stop.

    • January 27, 2014 / 4:15 pm

      You make a good point re child minders, I hadn't thought of that. But in fairness if I thought my childminder was regularly dropping my kids off that late I'd be having serious words / finding someone else to do the job!

      Secondary school ch is tricky but at the end of the day they are still the parents' responsibility – if I was fined as a result of my secondary school child being persistently late I'd be passing the fine to them & making me pay it back to prove a point – much like they'd have to pay hours back / lose wages if they were persistently late for work in the real world ….

  2. katefever
    January 27, 2014 / 4:02 pm

    I agree with you. It is not going to affect the people who just sometimes have a bad morning, get delayed etc. It will affect the people who are consistently unable to get their children to school on time – and I think that's fair. It's not that difficult – get up 10 minutes earlier, or do more things the night before (such as packed lunch boxes, setting out uniforms etc).

  3. January 27, 2014 / 5:44 pm

    As with most things, the lines are blurred arent they? I do agree that lazy bums should be rapped on the knuckles and then fined if it continues. But hopefully no parent who really makes a mistake or the circumstances are out of their control will get reprimanded unfairly!

    • Aly
      May 12, 2017 / 9:20 am

      Parents are unfairly being fined if they just lazy then yes yes it is fair but my 13 year old child refuses to go is having lots of emotional problems is under edwin lobo and no matter what i do he refuses to go to school on time or even go sometimes i am doing everything i can and working with the local council but am still getting fined this is completely unfair and wrong beyond words

  4. Monkey Footed Mummy
    January 27, 2014 / 6:18 pm

    Here here, we get 10 minutes grace before gates are locked and you need to report to reception, I've not been late once, and like you have 3 kids dressed fed and out in time, some mornings aren't pleasant and my kids know if they don't get dressed properly the will go to school as they are (yes I would) our head has his 5 kids to drop off before getting to school and he's never late do I'm going to try to show the same courtesy

    • January 27, 2014 / 7:43 pm

      Ben had to go "through the front door" a few times at the end of last year and whilst I hated it as he was late – he was literally just after the bell not late enough to be getting marks on the register.
      I fully agree with "taking them as they are" – I've threatened it with Ben enough times!
      I can't abide tardiness in general life – it's rude.

  5. January 27, 2014 / 7:16 pm

    I'm so in favour of this. We have kids persistently late – often daily – by 10 minutes + so they're missing at least one lesson a week just by getting in late, often with no excuse and the stats on absenteeism and outcomes are staggering. Bring it on.

    • January 27, 2014 / 7:44 pm

      The parents would soon complain if they school failed its Ofsted due to poor attendance and lates wouldn't they!

  6. January 27, 2014 / 7:53 pm

    I remember children being persistently late at school, I could never understand it! O isn't at school yet but she's only been late to preschool once. It was back when I was walking her to preschool and I had 'one of those mornings' lol, f was a baby, I was pregnant with B and I was having trouble getting the pushchair out of the house, had a fight with the gate and got a huge splinter in my finger! I sobbed all the way to preschool (splinter still in finger…they got it out for me lol) We still made it before the end of their registration though!
    I've always been one of those 'too early' types, I used to arrive at secondary school at 8.10am but then my mates all arrived pretty early too and we'd have time for a good gossip!! I've continued that habit it would seem lol!! (handy cos 'late' to me is missing my chat time hahaha!!)
    See….it's shows in this post….lets cut to the chase…I thoroughly, absolutely agree with you Colette. Beautifully written, you should send this to the papers!!

    • January 27, 2014 / 8:16 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂
      I've always managed to get Ben and Chlo to Nursery time too – we get fined at Chlo's preschool if we collect them late! (Not that I ever have!)

  7. Pam Francis Gregory
    January 27, 2014 / 7:55 pm

    Ideal way to teach kids and some parents a little bit of responsibility!

  8. January 27, 2014 / 8:37 pm

    I agree with it!! My girls are never late for school….But there is a boy in my eldest's class who is late about 4 times a week….Not just a few minutes usually about half an hour….His mother is just bone idle!

    • January 27, 2014 / 8:48 pm

      I taught a young lad who often turned up in the middle of Maths with pillow creases on his face having just woken up and got himself out to school. We did everything we could to support him and his family but nothing seemed to do the trick unfortunately.

  9. AK Templer
    January 27, 2014 / 8:39 pm

    i like your blog post and think 10x late is alot and might make parents look at running late twice but then i am a easy on to convince Finn hasnt started school yet until september when i have to start doing school run with him and a 6 month old baby lets talk end of the year again! i use to be more then on time before i had Finn….! now not so much #nervousalready

    • January 27, 2014 / 8:49 pm

      You will be fine! By 6 months you'll have baby into a bit of a routine and you'll get things sorted. Don't worry x

  10. Emmysmummy
    January 27, 2014 / 8:46 pm

    I'll be being fined then.
    We walk. It's a 30 minute walk for me with both in a buggy but on times Emmy wants to walk. I plan ahead for this and leave 45 mind early but she can't walk fast- so we are late

    • January 27, 2014 / 8:52 pm

      I'm sure she will be able to walk considerably quicker by the time we get to September though – its ages away in that sense. My two are often rushed along if I think we're going to be late.

  11. January 27, 2014 / 8:50 pm

    If you are regularly late then I think that it's a good idea!

    kirstyjfox [at] yahoo [dot] com

  12. January 27, 2014 / 10:55 pm

    Completely agree, Kids shouldn't be late to school every week, it's ridiculous, disrupts registration and effects the other students too.

  13. January 28, 2014 / 8:48 am

    If you are regularly late I cant help but agree with a fine. Being late is not helping a child's education and it can also disrupt other children's learning when the child wonders in late.

  14. January 28, 2014 / 5:37 pm

    Hmmm, not sure about this one. Some good points and very valid. I'm not on side for fining for taking children on holiday at all and think they should have a better way of viewing it. I mean if just off for a week as can't be bothered that's one thing but if it's the case of a family holiday (so important) or not then I'm all for time out of school. With regards to fining parents for lateness it is of course a different issue and if it could be taken on a case by case basis then sure, I can see it being a good thing but… We won't take it on a case by case basis because then people will shout unfair! And I'm sure for some families getting to different schools all at the same time or perhaps families with problems… Well it might be difficult and not altogether best…

  15. January 30, 2014 / 12:57 pm

    I think it's a great idea! Actually, our schools are filling up and classes are huge. Why not withdraw these children from the free school system. If they don't want to go/ (can't get up earlier to get to school on time) – don't make them!

  16. January 31, 2014 / 10:36 am

    Agreed! Fair enough you have a bad morning or something out of your control happens. But to constantly be late every week, that's not fair on their education they are missing out so much. Just get up earlier or be better prepared the night before. Organization!!!

  17. January 31, 2014 / 11:02 am

    I agree with you if a child is persistently late it's not just a case of a little hiccup getting up and getting to school it's a real problem. However, I do think that £60 is a lot though, considering that's how much you pay if you take your children out of school for holidays, is that each time they're late? xx

    • January 31, 2014 / 11:24 am

      No I think its £60 after the 10 incidents – so £6 a time if you want to break it down.
      Incidentally my daughter's pre school charge parents £5 if they are more than £5 minutes late to collect your child (though I'm sure they wouldn't charge you as a one off)

  18. January 31, 2014 / 11:51 am

    I totally agree with everything that you have said. I had the same debate with friends last week and obviously they threw in the arguments of delayed public transport etc…. but as you so rightly point out it's the persistent lateness of some with no feasible excuses. Although I do also think that good attendance should be rewarded too. Fab post. 🙂

    • January 31, 2014 / 2:21 pm

      Totally agree! I'm all for carrot approach! Lots of schools do raffles and such like for good attenders – eg everyone with 100% attendance gets their name in the pot and a few children win a prize at the end of the term. Positive reinforcement 😀 x

  19. January 31, 2014 / 12:07 pm

    Great post. I think most things school related in the media are given a sensational slant- school is just something everyone has an opinion about! I do wonder though with the fining.. what happens if parents don't pay?

    • January 31, 2014 / 2:20 pm

      From what it says in the article its a bit like a car park fine and doubles if you don't pay it quickly!

  20. January 31, 2014 / 10:27 pm

    I love your rant lovely. You are really good at ranting! And yes, now you put it in black and white about it being serial offenders, I can see your point. I think people who are consistently late though probably have more problems and financial ones may just add to it xxx

    • February 1, 2014 / 8:15 pm

      I have been known to be quite opinionated 😉
      I know what you mean – I'd like to think in that instance there would be some common sense applied & support given …

  21. January 31, 2014 / 10:42 pm

    We live next door to the school, and are constantly running over at the last minute. That's fair enough. My boys still get in while their classmates are hanging up their coats in the cloakroom. But I'd object to kids disrupting class by arriving mid-lesson or something like that.

    • February 1, 2014 / 8:16 pm

      Yes that's not disruptive – you get them there albeit by the skin of their teeth!

  22. January 31, 2014 / 11:26 pm

    Good points! But I also agree positive reinforcement or some kind of reward for the children who are on time would probably provide more enthusiasm than having to worry about how many times you've had a bad morning a term.

  23. January 31, 2014 / 11:34 pm

    We have to drive 5 miles to school so have to leave promptly, Drives me nuts that my children don't get ready or get distracted. They often say "but so and so is always late" to which I reply "I don't care about other people being late just you!" Working in secondary there are plenty of kids whose parents have left for work before kids get up and so aren't there to chase them out of the door on time..

    • February 1, 2014 / 8:19 pm

      I hope that we will have instilled some sense of the importance of time keeping in them before that happens – I just wouldn't have dared been late when I was that age. Chlo was running round the house this morning shouting "I late, I late, I got no time" – which is probably indicative of our mornings atm lol

  24. February 1, 2014 / 2:39 pm

    Good rant Colette. Our school moved registration to the end of the day thinking this we pound encourage parents to make sure they were in school on time, rather than thinking "oh, it's only registration, doesn't matter if you're late)
    Didn't work, kids are now just 15 mins to lesson 1. Very annoying when you then have to recap what you've already said because they couldn't be bothered to get up earlier!

    • February 1, 2014 / 8:19 pm

      Oh god how infuriating! And what a massive waste of learning time!

  25. February 1, 2014 / 9:16 pm

    Sounds quite sensible if something like this were to get implemented, especially since you said it was only for those marked as late 10 times or more per term.
    Every school has a handful of people who seem to often be late with their kids. Why can't they think just to get up slightly earlier?
    Different it it was the occasional sleeping in, but as you've said that wouldn't target those. Everyone can be accidentally late occasionally, but surely those that are consistently late could do something about it.

  26. Jen Palmer
    February 1, 2014 / 9:31 pm

    I think it's a great idea if it stops the repeat offenders getting away with it. I was in reception last week, waiting to help walk my daughter's class to the library, and a lady came in with her son. It was 9:35, so they were 45 minutes late and her "reason" was, "He had a late night and then spent too long in the shower this morning."
    I mean, REALLY?!

  27. February 3, 2014 / 8:12 am

    hehe love that he went in wellies-better than slippers. I agree but may have to organise myself for September 2015 or I may too be getting fined 😉

  28. February 3, 2014 / 8:54 am

    I like the idea, as it will pull up the socka sof those who are persistently late. Persistent lateness cannot have an excuse that falls into 'bad traffic' I think it comes down to not caring as much as you should. So I'm in favour of this for sure.

    Great post hun, thanks so much for linking up to #MMWBH xx

  29. Sarah Wheeler
    February 3, 2014 / 11:17 am

    Tricky one, but not sure….agree no (or certainluy few) justifications for being persistently late, but not sure this is best way forward.

  30. April 5, 2014 / 7:01 pm

    I agree with you. Persistent lateness is also really rude and I think it's good to set a better example to your children. Great post x

  31. Anonymous
    May 14, 2015 / 11:28 am

    I dont think its going to work, if the children are late so many times there must be a problem and the parents wont pay the fine and then it will go up and up. What happend to good old fashioned detention or missing a play time, its all about squeezing money out these days. My kids were never late but my daughter just about gets to high school on time, she is up at 7am and messes about with her hair, the dog anything to procrastinate but she is lucky to get a lift. I tell her if you are late and get into trouble it will be your own fault! She is very clever and top of everything, but just very slow!

    • May 14, 2015 / 8:16 pm

      I guess that depends if you're talking primary or secondary really. It would hardly be fair to punish a child of primary age for persistent lateness with missed playtimes etc. Secondary age children who are getting themselves to school on time I guess that's a different matter. Either way parents are still held accountable & are legally responsible for getting their children to school so they do have to bear some of the brunt of that in my opinion.

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