Term-Time Holiday Ruling: Jon Platt Loses Supreme Court Battle Over Taking Daughter To Disney World

The landmark decision was made after a two-year legal battle.

06/04/2017 10:33

Jon Platt has lost a Supreme Court battle over taking his daughter on holiday to Disney World during school term-time.

Five senior judges at the court gave the ruling on Thursday 6 April after Isle of Wight Council challenged the decision that Platt did not have to pay the fine.

Platt had previously won an earlier battle against a £120 fine after taking his daughter out of school without permission.

The Supreme Court justices considered whether or not Platt committed an offence by failing to ensure his daughter “attended school regularly”, as required by section 444(1) of the 1996 Education Act. 

They ruled that “regular attendance” had to be keeping with rules of the school.

The landmark decision was made after a two-year legal battle.

It is likely to affect millions of parents’ decisions about taking their children out of school to go on holiday.

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

Platt was prosecuted in April 2015 after he refused to pay the £120 penalty. The local magistrates took the case to London’s High Court.

At the time of the High Court ruling in May 2016, Platt argued his daughter’s total attendance was over the 90% threshold contained in the Isle of Wight policy on regular attendance.  

In the High Court, judges ruled that Platt was “not acting unlawfully” because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90%.

However, Isle of Wight then asked Supreme Court justices to overturn the decision, arguing it was unclear what “regular attendance” at school meant.

At the ruling today, James Eadie QC argued it would be “absurd” if parents could go on holiday with children in a way that “undermined” Government policy on unauthorised absences, The Mirror reported

The Supreme Court ruling means the case will be returned to the magistrates’ court on the Isle of Wight, the BBC reported.

It is hoped the Supreme Court will also provide some clarity on how much school can be missed before parents are prosecuted.

A Department for Education spokesperson previously told The Huffington Post UK: “The evidence is clear that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.

“We are confident our policy to reduce school absence is clear and correct.‎ 

“We are clear that children’s attendance at school is non-negotiable so we will now look to change the legislation. We also plan to strengthen statutory guidance to schools and local authorities.”

Following a government crackdown on term-time absences in 2013, parents who take children out of school without permission can be issued with a £60 fine per child. If that fine is not paid within 21 days it rises to £120 and after 28 days it will be claimed through reductions in child benefit.

Those who fail to pay can face prosecution.  

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