A dad from the Isle of Wight who took his children to Florida during term-time and then refused to pay a fine has escaped conviction after proving his actions were not illegal.
Jon Platt claimed it was impossible to arrange for a group of 18 to visit the US during the holidays, so he took the decision to organise the holiday for April, when they should have been at school. After he didn’t pay the initial £60 fine from the council, he was taken to court, but appeared in front of magistrates to argue that the Education Act didn’t specifically ban term-time holidays.
“Under section 444 of the Education Act, subsection 1 – it’s very clear, it’s not complicated language – it simply says that a parent has committed an offence if a child does not attend school regularly and my daughter had excellent attendance at school.” he told Sky News.
“So long as you apply to the words in that act – making sure your child attends school regularly – you have nothing to fear…there is no legislation that says children cannot go on holiday in term time.”
The case was thrown out and Platt urged other parents to decline paying any fine they received. He admitted that there is a link between attendance and attainment, but insisted that his children are rarely absent otherwise and are achieving “outstanding” results.
For what it’s worth, I sympathise with parents who find that holiday companies charge ludicrous amounts during school holidays and that really needs addressing soon. However,one or two children being absent for a week here or there is manageable, but if all parents started taking their kids away at different points during the term, how would anything get done? How could you keep a whole class up to speed on the curriculum when they were all missing different swathes of work?
The guidelines are in place for a reason, without them there would be chaos. It’s time aggrieved parents stopped complaining about schools and councils trying to keep kids in class and directed their ire at the holiday providers, who are causing the issue in the first place.
What do you think? Should parents take their kids away when they want? Have you taken your children away during term-time?
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