COMMENT: Warn first, then fine is way to deal with lateness

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Any parent trying to get children off to school in the morning knows the meaning of stress.

Time appears to be an alien concept to the younger members of the family and it is often a frantic period of repeated requests to get teeth and hair brushed and shoes on feet before getting them out of the door and en route to lessons.

Only those who go through this blood pressure-raising daily routine will know what a miracle it is that they still manage to get their children to school each day without them being late.

But, ultimately, it is a parental responsibility to ensure children are in class on time – whatever dramas happen at home to make that task more difficult.

So we can understand those who agree with parents being fined £60 if their children are repeatedly late for school.

In a poll on The News’ website, 62 per cent of readers said schools should have the right to fine parents if pupils are consistently late.

Schools in Hampshire are among those that have been advised by councils to extend fixed penalties to also include lateness.

The county council says a fine could be issued if a pupil has been late on at least 10 occasions, with these marked down as unauthorised absences.

If a pattern emerges, then action has to be taken.

But these fines are not automatic and are only used when other strategies such as formal warnings have been tried and not had the desired effect.

Meanwhile Alison Jeffery, director of children’s services at Portsmouth City Council – which oversees the city’s schools – says fines may be considered if a pupil is ‘significantly late after registration’ on ‘a regular basis’, and that a formal written warning would be issued first.

This system of warning first, fine later seems a sensible way of dealing with the problem.

Because when those children leave school and enter the big, wide world of work, consistently poor timekeeping will definitely not be tolerated by their employers.