COLUMN: Should parents be allowed to take children on holiday in term-time?

head teacher Simon Robinson with pupils William Marshall, nine and Caitlin Stevenson, nine.
head teacher Simon Robinson with pupils William Marshall, nine and Caitlin Stevenson, nine.

Earlier this month, parent Jon Platt had his term time holiday fine upheld in the Supreme Court.

This comes after great expense and months of legal wrangling through the court system.

To understand the origin of this issue we have to go back to September 2013, prior to which head teachers could grant leave of absence of up to ten days for the purposes of a family holiday during term time in ‘special circumstances’.

Sensible? It would seem so.

Then along came Michael Gove, the then education secretary, who effectively banned head teachers from sanctioning term-time holidays.

He did this to help “stop the conveyor belt to crime, teenage pregnancy, child neglect and abuse” - deliberately and misguidedly linking ‘holiday’ absence rates to this range of social issues.

Thus the Jon Platt case ensued. Mr Platt refused to pay his fine for taking a week’s holiday to Disney World during term time because his other children went to different schools, which had different school holiday dates.

The Supreme Court finally ruled against him and the Prime Minister announced that it was for schools themselves to decide on absences.

It would therefore seem that we are back in exactly the same position we were in prior to Gove, prior to 2013.

Some might thank him for his meddling. Others might consider his actions misguided and, ironically, uneducated.

Gove himself has now said in light of the rulingfaced by Mr Platt, that the answer lies in “better regulation of the tourism market”.

We shall await positive developments on this issue.

But I for one won’t be holding my breath.