Term-time holidays are officially not allowed. That’s the upshot of the verdict handed out today (6th April 2017) in a landmark ruling from the judges of the Supreme Court.
Back in October 2015, dad Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, won his initial court case over a £120 fine for taking his 7-year-old daughter out of school for 8 days, without permission, to go to Disney World, Florida.
Jon won the case – and avoided the fine – by arguing that, despite the holiday, his daughter had “regular attendance” (94%) at school (and so her education wouldn’t have suffered).
Jon’s initial ‘win’ apparently led to a surge in term-time holiday bookings all over England (rules for term-time holidays are different in Wales or Scotland), as parents started to believe that term-time holidays were now allowed (if their child’s school attendance was otherwise good).
But Jon’s case didn’t end there; education chiefs appealed and, eventually, the case ended up being heard at the Supreme Court, the highest court in the UK. And today the Supreme Court judges ruled that Jon must pay the fine for taking his child out of school, and said that Jon had shown a “blatant disregard of school rules”.
The Supreme Court ruling means that the rising number of parents who, like Jon, take their children out of school during term time without the head teacher’s permission still face prosecution and maybe even – if they refuse to pay the fines – a prison sentence.
Term time holidays on the rise
New figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal that, in 2015, around 20,000 people were prosecuted for failing to ensure that a child went to school – a 21% rise on the previous year – resulting in 11,000 fines, 553 community sentences and 8 prison sentences.
If the trend for taking children out of school during term time continues at the rate is has done over the last couple of years, it looks as though prosecution rates could soar.
What are the rules on term-time holidays?
According to guidelines introduced in 2013, you can only allow your children to miss school if they are ill, or if you have received permission, in advance, from the school.
Headteachers are not able to grant this permission – unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.
If you do take your child out of school without permission, you risk receiving a fine of £60 (rising to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days). And if you don’t pay the fine after 28 days, you may be taken to court, where you could be fined up to £2,500 or receive a jail sentence of 3 months.
What do you think?
Would you be tempted to take your child out of school during term time without the headteacher’s permission? Does the reason you’re taking them out make a difference? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook