School’s not out as Supreme Court rules parents can be prosecuted for term time holidays

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Posted in:Education, Litigation|April 7, 2017 | Join the mailing list

Jon Platt, a father who took his daughter out of school for a family holiday in 2015 this week lost his landmark case as the Supreme Court ruled that parents who take their children out of school for term time holidays can be prosecuted. 

In 2015 The Isle of White Council pursued Mr Platt for taking his daughter out of school without permission and for refusing to pay the penalty notice. Mr Platt was initially successful in his defence in the Magistrates Court and in May 2016, The High Court agreed with the decision of the Magistrates and ruled Mr Platt’s favour. Yesterday the Supreme Court overturned that decision.

The five judges ruled that the meaning of “regular” attendance should be decided by the school and made clear that parents in England can be fined if their children are taken out of school during term time without the permission of the head teacher, save for exceptional reasons such as illness or family bereavement.

Lady Hale in her leading judgement made clear that it would cause unacceptable disruption to the school, teachers and other pupils if parents were able to withdraw their children from school without permission.The decision of the Supreme Court means that the case will be returned to the magistrates court for determination.

The decision has been widely praised for providing clarity to parent and schools confirming the position that no child can be taken out of school without good reason and without the permission of the head teacher. Doubtless objections to this policy will continue to be voiced by parents who struggle with accommodating family holidays during peak holiday periods and clashing school terms.

Mr Platt has already confirmed his intention to plead not guilty when the case is reheard by the Magistrates but has urged other parents who may still have outstanding fines to pay them now.


To find out more about the issues raised in this post, or to discuss any queries regarding the payment of school absence fines  get in touch with Frances Moseley or call +44 (0) 161 829 2599.

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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