Holidays In and Out of School Time

Holidays In and Out of School Time

Holidays In and Out of School Time

Your holidays with children may need to be in school holidays, after court ruling

In some companies, there can be intense competition for annual leave at the most popular times of the year, such as the half-term week in May/June, the second half of July and the whole of August. If you have children, then the best advice has to be to book your holidays early, before your colleagues have had a chance to book their own leave.

This is particularly true now that Jon Platt has lost his legal battle regarding his decision to take his daughter on holiday during term time, a dispute which went all the way to the Supreme Court. The case revolved around what the phrase ‘regular attendance’, as used in the Education Act, actually means. The Supreme Court decided that to attend ‘regularly’ means to attend on all days for which the school is open.

Mr Platt had previously been victorious in the High Court when he was prosecuted by the local authority over the matter. After taking his daughter on a week’s holiday to Florida during the school term, Mr Platt was served with a £60 fine by the Education Authority at Isle of Wight Council, a penalty which was later increased to £120 when he did not pay. The council prosecuted Mr Platt in the High Court when he still refused to pay the fine, but were unsuccessful as the Court accepted Mr Platt’s argument that his daughter’s attendance record of 92.3% was sufficient to satisfy the definition of ‘regular attendance’.

This led Isle of Wight Council to appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK, where they were ultimately successful. Mr Platt’s case will now go back to his local magistrates’ court, who will decide the appropriate level of fine for him to pay.

Lady Hale, Deputy President of the Supreme Court, said in her judgement, handed down in April 2017:

“This is not an approach to rule-keeping which any educational system can be expected to find acceptable. It is a slap in the face to those obedient parents who do keep the rules, whatever the cost or inconvenience to themselves.”

In summary, the legal position is that your children must attend school for every day of the school term, unless they are ill or the headteacher has authorised their absence in advance. Special permission to miss school is only likely to be granted for religious holidays, or compelling personal reasons such as bereavement.

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