Tuesday 26 September 2017

Father loses Supreme Court battle over taking daughter to Disney World during term-time

Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time.Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A father has lost a Supreme Court battle over taking his daughter on holiday to Disney World during school term-time.

Jon Platt took his daughter on a seven-day family trip to Disney World in Florida in April 2015 without the headteacher's permission.

The council prosecuted Mr Platt after he refused to pay a £120 (€140) penalty. Local magistrates found there was no case to answer, and the authority then took its case to the High Court in London.

Today, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the landmark legal battle between education chiefs and the father.

Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time.Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time.Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Five justices at the UK's highest court gave the ruling on the challenge by Isle of Wight Council in a case involving father Jon Platt.

Jon Platt has said he was "not at all surprised" to have lost a Supreme Court battle over taking his daughter on holiday during school term-time, adding that schools now need to think "very carefully" about absence rules.

Initially, two judges at London's High Court declared that Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90pc.

They said the magistrates were entitled to take into account the "wider picture" of the child's attendance record outside of the dates she was absent on the holiday.

Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Jon Platt arrives at the Supreme Court in central London with his wife Sally where the Court will rule on the much-anticipated legal case on an unauthorised holiday during school term time. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The decision caused a surge in term-time bookings all over England.

In an action being closely watched by schools and parents all over the country, the council then asked the Supreme Court justices, including the court's president Lord Neuberger, to overturn the High Court decision, saying it raised important issues over what constitutes ''regular attendance'' at school.

Mr Platt's request for permission to take his daughter out of school was refused by her headteacher.

After the holiday he was issued with a fixed penalty notice, but he did not pay the £60 by the initial deadline, and was sent a further invoice for £120, which he also did not pay.

Controversy was triggered when the Government ordered a crackdown on school absences in 2013.

New guidelines were introduced for English schools which only allow heads to permit pupils to miss classes in ''exceptional circumstances''.

Families complain that trips in official holiday periods are up to four times more expensive, and local councils have reported that the number of breaks in term time is increasing.

The Department for Education has told parents that their children missing just a few days in the classroom can damage GCSE results.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said removing children from school during term-time would create "chaos" in the classroom.

She said: "I completely understand the difficulties that working parents face - I did myself as a single mum.

"But it's really, really important that we set that principle that actually children should attend school in term-time.

"There are exceptional circumstances, there is discretion at the moment.

"But if all parents took their children out of school in term-time because it was cheaper to get a holiday that way, then it would be chaos in our schools and it would affect all children."

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