Supreme court upholds ban on term-time holidays

Parents across England watched eagerly today as the Supreme Court ruled that parents who take their children out of school without permission can be prosecuted.

The case, which will have far-reaching consequences for the parents of England’s school-age children, pitted the Department of Education against Jon Platt, 46, a businessman from the Isle of Wight who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on a week-long trip to Disneyland Florida.

 

What does it mean for parents?

Thursday’s decision means that parents who take their children out of school during term-time face prosecution, even if their child has a high general attendance. Mr Platt’s argument – that his daughter’s high overall attendance of 92.3 percent should be taken into account – was rejected.

The rules introduced by the Department of Education in 2013 will remain in place. These restrictions removed any provision for family holidays, meaning that parents may only take their child away from school under “exceptional circumstances”, such as a family-member’s funeral.

Parents who break the rules can be fined £60 by their local council, which rises to £120 if the fine is left unpaid. After 28 days the parent can be prosecuted, at which point they face a £2,500 fine or even a three-month prison sentence.

According to the Education Act 1966, the only statutory exemptions that override a headteacher’s discretion are sickness, the failure to provide transport to children registered to receive it to and from school, and religious observance reasons.

The judges said Mr Platt had shown a “blatant disregard of school rules” and that his approach was a “slap in the face” to parents who play by the rules.

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