13th May 2016

High Court Rules on Term-Time Holidays

The case of a father who was fined £120 for taking his daughter on holiday during term time was heard by the High Court today. 

The magistrates’ court in the Isle of Wight decided that Jon Platt had no case to answer as his child still attended school regularly. However the Isle of Wight Council, who issued the fine,  pursued the case in the High Court to seek clarification in respect of whether taking a seven-day absence amounts to regular attendance. 

The father-of-three won his case in the magistrates’ court after successfully arguing section 444 of the Education Act required parents to ensure their children attended school "regularly".

After he took his daughters on an eight-day trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, he received the fine. 

The ruling today raises the prospect of similar challenges from parents of children in English state schools, after tighter rules on authorised absences were introduced by the government in 2013.

Even though the High Court has ruled in his favour, the Council could still appeal and the case could go as far as the Supreme Court. 

Our Education Law Solicitor, Lauren Crow, said: “The decision of the High Court will have far-reaching consequences and provides some welcome clarification.  The High Court held that the Magistrates’ Court were right to take into account the “wider picture” when coming to the decision that Mr Platt had no case to answer.

No doubt parents who wish to avoid the inflated costs of holidays within school holiday time will welcome the decision. However, parents will need to note that they need to ensure that their children maintain regular attendance for the rest of the year in order to avoid prosecution and fines.”

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