The Supreme Court have recently considered the case of Jon Platt. He was taken to Court by the Isle of Wight Council for taking his Daughter on a seven day trip to Florida during the schools term time, having being refused permission by the Head Teacher.
Mr Platt was fined £60 for the breach. As he did not pay the fine by the deadline the Local Authority doubled the penalty to £120. Mr Platt refused to pay the second fine and was prosecuted under Section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996. This states that if a child of compulsory school age ‘fails to attend regularly’ then his or her parent is guilty of an offence.
The Magistrates Court and High Court ruled in Mr Platt’s favour but the case then went to the Supreme Court.
The Magistrates Court had found that the Daughter was a regular attender, with a 92.3 attendance rate. When the case went to appeal the High Court found that the Magistrates Court was entitled to take into account attendance outside of the holiday dates when determining the attendance of the Daughter.
However, when the case was heard at the Supreme Court the Judges found that the Daughter’s attendance was not at ‘regular intervals’. Even though the earlier decisions had implied that ‘sufficiently frequent’ attendance was the meaning that is not what parliament intended when enacting the 1996 act.
The Supreme Court therefore decided that the penalty notice was properly issued to Mr Platt.
Taking children out of school
The Department of Education is pleased with the decision. Head Teachers can decide when there are exceptional circumstances to allow a child to be absent but the ruling gives more certainty for schools and local authorities.
A spokesperson said “the evidence shows every extra day of school missed can effect a pupils chances of achieving good GCSE’s which has a lasting effect on their life chances.”
We can help
We have advised many parents in a similar situation. If you would like to talk to a member of our family team about taking your child out of school contact us on 01529 301300.