This morning, the Supreme Court has ruled on whether a father should have been fined for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday during term-time.
Parents and teachers across the UK have watched the case between Jon Platt and his local education authority, the Isle of Wight Council, carefully, aware that if the Court reversed an earlier ruling that overturned a ban on term-time holidays, parents face criminal penalty on an unprecedented scale.
Since 2013, discretion to Head Teachers at state schools in England to grant up to two weeks term-time holiday for pupils with good attendance has been removed. The current rule states that children can only be taken out of school for “exceptional circumstances”. There have been a surge in fines levied against parents for proceeding with holiday arrangements in term-time.
Platt took his daughter out of school on holiday to Disney World Florida for 7 days in April 2015 and refused to pay the fine which the Council imposed. Platt argued that his daughter had attended school regularly. The school register recorded her attendance at 92.3%. Platt’s appeal against paying the fine was successful. The Council then appealed that decision on which the Supreme Court ruled today. The judges today said that Platt had shown a “blatant disregard of school rules” and that his approach had been a “slap in the face” to parents who play by the rules.
You can only allow your child to miss school if they are ill, or if you have received advanced permission from the school. If you take your child out of school without permission, you risk receiving a fine of £60, which rises to £120 if paid after 21 days. Failing to pay the fine in 28 days can result in prosecution, with a maximum fine, if convicted, of £2,500 or a jail sentence of up to three months. Getting permission from the school requires making an application to the Head Teacher in advance. Where, previously, Head Teachers could grant 10 days of authorised absence, now they are unable to grant any except in exceptional circumstances.
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“They said the magistrates were entitled to take into account the “wider picture” of the child’s attendance record outside of the dates she was absent on the holiday. The decision caused a surge in term-time bookings all over England.”