Attendance - recent legislation
Many of you will have been following, are familiar with, or have heard of a recent legal case, Isle of Wight v Platt.
Here’s a quick summary for you:
- On 13 May 2016, the High Court ruled in favour of Jon Platt, a father from the Isle of Wight who had refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term-time. Mr Platt took his daughter to Disney World in April 2015, causing her to miss seven days of school lessons, despite her school having refused permission for her absence.
- Mr Platt was relying on the Education Act 1996 to make his case. Under s444 of the act, parents are guilty of an offence if their child “fails to attend regularly”. Mr Platt argued that the holiday did not break this rule, as his daughter had a good school attendance record, having attended school regularly.
- The DfE provided support for the Isle of Wight Council in their appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court judgement. The appeal was heard in January 2017.
- On 6 April 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled against Jon Platt and stated it is for schools, not parents, to decide on what is regular and, again, it is for schools, not parents, to decide which circumstances are exceptional. The Supreme Court’s judgement supports the penalty notice system under which parents may be fined for taking their children out of school without authorisation.
- The Isle of Wight’s appeal success in the Supreme Court means that any potential relaxation of the rules on term-time holidays is unlikely to take place. Parents who are fined and refuse to pay will not be able to rely on their child’s general attendance record in defence, should the employing body decide to prosecute.