The High Court has recently given approval for term time holidays, backing a father who refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school.
The father had taken his six year old daughter to Florida in April 2015 and was prosecuted by the Isle of Wight Council after refusing to pay a £60 penalty.
He had successfully argued in the Magistrates Court that his daughter was at school regularly because her attendance rate was above 93%. (Those whose attendance is below 90% are classed as persistent truants).
The Council unsuccessfully challenged the decision in the High Court. Two Judges agreed that the Magistrates had been entitled to take into account the “wider picture” of the child’s attendance.
The Law is contained in the Education Act of 1944 which states that children should have “regular attendance” at school.
Until 2013, Head Teachers had discretion to allow term time holidays of up to two weeks.
Now parents who take their children out of school without permission face a fine of £60 per parent per child. Notwithstanding that, parents can save large sums of money by taking holidays “off peak” even factoring in the amount of the fines.
It is expected that in the ensuing months there will be more cases of this nature to seek greater clarity from the court.
So far as schools are concerned the requirement that term time leave is granted only in exceptional circumstances have not changed but each request will need detailed consideration of the child’s attendance records.
So far as parents are concerned, many will see this an opportunity to take children out of school in term time every year which could impact upon their academic achievement.
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