Supreme Court rules against Father over term time holiday

The Supreme Court issued the much anticipated judgement in Isle of Wight Council v Platt this morning, ruling in favour of the Council.

The ruling turns on the interpretation of the word ‘regularly’ when considering attendance.

If a child of compulsory school age ‘fails to attend regularly’ then his or her parent is guilty of an offence under Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.  Discretion given to Headteachers to allow up to 2 weeks of term time holiday for pupils with good attendance was severely reduced following the introduction of regulations in 2013.  Mr Platt was fined £60 for taking his daughter on a seven day trip to Florida during school term time, having been refused permission to remove her by the head teacher.

Mr Platt was fined £60, but failed to pay, causing it to be doubled to £120.  He was then prosecuted on further failure to pay on the basis of an alleged failure to secure regular attendance in breach of s444(1) Education Act 1996.

The Magistrates’ Court considered Mr Platt’s submission that his daughter was a regular attender with a 92.3% attendance rate and held that there was no failure to secure regular attendance.  The Isle of Wight Council appealed to the High Court who also found in Mr Platt’s favour.

The Supreme Court however, have ruled against Mr Platt’s interpretation of regular attendance.

The Court ruled that “regularly” did not mean “evenly spaced” or “sufficiently often”, but in fact meant “in accordance with the attendance rules”.

The matter will now go back to the Isle of Wight Magistrates Court for Mr Platt to answer the original charge.

This will now resolve the period of uncertainty facing schools and parents whilst this matter has gone through the courts. Fines will remain payable if you take your children out of school during term time without authorisation.