High court ruling 'makes term-time holidays legal'

Controversy over parents taking children out of school to go on holiday exploded this week as the High Court made a ruling in favour of the parents.

Thursday, 19th May 2016, 2:21 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th May 2016, 4:56 pm
Term-time holidays have seen a surge since a High Court ruling in favour of parents. (Image: Scrub Island resort, British Virgin Islands, by Lheld1023)
Term-time holidays have seen a surge since a High Court ruling in favour of parents. (Image: Scrub Island resort, British Virgin Islands, by Lheld1023)

Education authorities, usually county and city councils, are responsible for issuing fines when schools report parents take their children out of school for term-time holidays, and sometimes even with casual permission from the head teachers to do so.

So Derbyshire County Council said they were 'currently considering the implications' on the High Court ruling over a parent's term-time holiday fine, which some have claimed sets a new precedent in law.

"We're still waiting for the court's full written judgement, said deputy cabinet member for children's services Councillor Caitlin Bisknell. "It's unusual that it hasn't been released yet. But until we get it, we won't know its full implications."

The Government's rules on holidays in term time were 'thrown into doubt' said the authority, after the High Court upheld a decision bt Isle of Wight magistrates' to find in favour of dad, Jon Platt. The court ruled he was not guilty of failing to ensure his daughter's regular attendance at school after taking her on holiday to Florida.

Mr Platt argued his daughter had attended school 'regularly' − which is required by law − and won the backing of magistrates.

When the Isle of Wight Council appealed the magistrates' decision, High Court judges have now backed the ruling after an appeal, and the government has said it will look into tightening rules on attendance.

Councillor added said:"It's absolutely vital for children to attend school regularly and we work closely with our schools to improve attendance as we want to ensure as many Derbyshire children as possible are in school and learning.

"The revised policy on term-time holidays introduced by the Government in 2013 removed the discretion headteachers had in deciding whether or not to allow holidays during term time which has led to some parents being fined.

"The Government ruled that parents shouldn't take their children out of school for a holiday unless there are exceptional circumstances.

"We will be scrutinising the judge's written statement carefully as soon as it's released and we'll wait to see if the Government changes its policy on attendance.

"In the meanwhile, I'd urge parents in Derbyshire to bear with us until we know the full implications of the ruling."

The decision to issue penalty notices for unauthorised absence for holidays lies with headteachers who are following strict Government policy. We simply administer the process on the school's behalf.