School Term Time Holidays – Supreme Court Ruling

You will have heard in the news this week that Isle of Wight father, Jon Platt, lost in a Supreme Court Appeal by the his local council, after he refused to pay their fine imposed for taking his daughter out of school during term time without authorisation. This landmark ruling will have wide reaching implications for all parents of children of school age. In 2013 the Government announced a crackdown on term time absences, and this ruling strengthens their legal position.

We all know that the cost of holidays can double in price outside of the school term timetable. With UK wage packets failing to keep up with rising costs, many parents choose to take their children out of school during term time as this is the only affordable option they believe that they have for a family holiday. Schools and councils on the other hand claim that this has a disruptive impact on the educational curriculum for the entire classroom, effecting attainment.

What parents need to know.

The Supreme Court ruling has made it clear that unauthorised absences could lead to prosecution, as it is now a criminal offence. It will undoubtedly lead to more fines and prosecutions, and parents need to be aware of that.

In the past head teachers could grant 10 days authorised absence. This was done via advance applications from the parent/s. However they are now unable to grant any, apart from exceptional circumstances (religious observance, family funerals etc). Education authorities have widely welcomed the court ruling, and many Councils have said that they now intend to review their policies.

Taking a child out of school without permission (illness excluded) risks a fine of £60, which will double to £120 if not paid within 21 days. Failure to pay the fine after 28 days could lead to prosecution, with fines of up to £2,500 or even a jail term of 3 months. This is not something to be taken lightly!

So, what can I do?
Ultimately, the decision still rests with the parent. As this is not a contract-of-employment issue, this is not something that UNISON can get involved in assisting members with. Many will simply view the £60 fine as being the lesser of two evils, when compared to the vastly increased costs associated with taking holidays during school holidays.

Help with family holiday costs
UNISON offer discounted holidays at our very own North Devon coastal holiday resort at Croyde Bay. Members can enjoy a minimum of 15% discount, rising to 50% for those on low incomes. For further details click on this link or contact our resort directly on 01271 890 890.


Date Online: 11/04/2017

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