A parent has refused to pay a fine for taking his child on holiday during term-time, which is causing debates over the law regarding term-time holidays.
Jon Platt took his daughter out of school during term-time to go on a holiday, and was fined £60 as a result. He proceeded to not pay this fine, and so he received a £120 fine. He refused to pay this, and then was taken to the High Court.
In the case, the Isle of Wight Council had asked the High Court to clarify if a seven-day absence counted towards a child failing to attend school regularly, after Mr Platt took his daughter on holiday even after being refused permission by the school.
Mr Platt was able to argue that there was no case to answer to, after the prosecution failed to show that his child didn’t attend regularly. Even with this and other absences, the attendance of Mr Platt’s child remained over 90 per cent – the required attendance to avoid being classed as persistent truancy, as stated by the Department for Education.
The High Court had decided that there was no case to answer due to his daughter having attended school regularly overall. Mr Platt successfully won his case and did not need to pay the fine.
This ruling has made parents question what is going to happen in the future for term-time holidays. Committee chairman, Neil Carmichael, said: “I certainly think we need a period of reflection on this matter because this ruling causes a huge amount of confusion.
“Instead of confusion we need clarity – clarity for parents and clarity for the schools, because people will be wondering what to do next given the scale of the change.
”Since 2013, the government have made it so that head teachers may grant absence for pupils during school term-time only in ‘special circumstances’. However the problem with the phrase ‘special circumstances’ is that it is difficult to define what counts as a special case.”
Sal Davies was another parent who was fined for taking her children out of school, when they went to see their grandparents in Asia for ten days. Talking to BBC Radio 5 Live, she said: “I really don’t think those ten days out of school damaged my children, changed their educational potential.
“I think they’ve done really well. They met family members. It was where I was born. It was a wonderful trip.”
Unauthorised absences between September 2013 and August 2014 resulted in almost 64,000 fines being handed out, according to local authority data. Parents are particularly aggrieved by holiday companies due to the fact that going away can cost up to four times as much in school holidays as during term-time.