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Term-time holiday victory
Friday May 13, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

The High Court has ruled in favour of father who took his daughter out of school for a holiday. But what does it mean for other parents? UPDATED

Jon Platt refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday to Disneyland in Florida in April 2015.

She was also taken out of school for a ski holiday to Lapland in Finland.

He maintained that her overall attendance at school is 90% and this is satisfactory.

An earlier magistrates court ruled in his favour but his local education authority, Isle of Wight, appealed to the High Court to seek clarification.

Isle of Wight Council had asked the High Court to clarify whether a seven-day absence amounted to a child failing to attend regularly.

Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall ruled that the magistrates had not "erred in law" when reaching their decision.

So, what does it mean?

It is certainly a victory for Jon Platt and some parents will seize on it and argue that they should be able to take their child out of school if they have regular attendance.

But with the government indicating a possible change in the law then the victory for those in favour of parents taking their children out of school for a term-time holiday may be short-lived.

It will also make the situation more difficult for head teachers as parents use the High Court ruling as a reason for taking a child out of school.

If a definition of regular attendance is 90% than that means 19 days in the school year can be taken - almost 4 weeks.

Some parents that have been fined may try to claim their money back.

Jon PlattJon Platt












"We will look at the judgement in detail but are clear children's attendance is non-negotiable so we will now look to change the law," said a spokesman for the Department for Education.

The Isle of Wight has said it is very disappointed by the decision and it has not brought clarification to the law.

"I fear massive disruption to schools across the country," said Jonathon Baker from the Isle of Wight Education Authority.

The judgement has been welcomed by UK Tour operators.

"We welcome the ruling of the High Court. The ruling finally comes down firmly on the side of common sense. It returns control to parents, who ought to be free to choose when they holiday with their family.
It means less pressure on peak travel periods, giving families more opportunities to holiday at a time and budget to suit them," said Ian Hope from the specialist family ski company, Esprit Ski.
"Active holidays such as skiing involve physical exercise, development of balance and co-ordination skills, and children regularly make huge leaps in self-confidence and self-esteem through their achievements on the slopes, as well as developing their social skills through new groups of friends made in ski classes. We have always been adamant that these benefits gained from a week's ski holiday are just as valuable a part of a child'˙s education and welfare as another 5 days spent in the classroom," Ian Hope added.

"This certainly appears to be a victory for families with school age children. As parents we fully understand the importance of regular school attendence; but we are also passionate believers that there is more to education that sitting in a classroom at the prescribed days and times. We'll be keeping a close eye on developments coming out of this ruling as they unfold over the coming weeks and months," said the MD of Ski Famille, Chris Thompson, to PlanetSKI.

"I think that if you can demonstrate that the trip was educational and will enhance skills or broaden the mind with different cultures you should be able to tale children out for a week or two. These might include sporting skills including skiing and sailing or trips to France, India, China and other countries. But Disney World I think would be stretching the definition," said the MD of Mountain Heaven, Nick Williams.

"I hope skiing is allowed as it would enable us to smooth out the bookings hence reduce the costs for school holidays at the moment is simply supply and demand, not profiteering that some people claim tour operators do!" added Nick Williams.

The court did not give a specific definition of what is regular attendance at school amounts to.

It now has the option of going to the Court of Appeal, but with the government saying it will look at the law then further legislation may be forthcoming.

"I am obviously hugely relieved. I know there was an awful lot riding on this. Not just for me but for hundreds of other parents," said Jon Platt outside the High Court.

So, what are the current rules for term-time holidays? See this article on the BBC that explains the situation.

PlanetSKI conducted a 24-hour survey on Twitter asking if parents should be fined with a simple Yes or No answer.

82% of respondents voted a resounding No - "Parents should not be fined for taking a term-time #ski holiday".

Results of Twitter SurveyResults of Twitter Survey









Important legal rulingImportant legal ruling













Since 2013 head teachers can only grant leave of absence in 'exceptional circumstances'.

A holiday is not deemed an exceptional circumstance.

It has had a large impact on parents taking their children on ski trips outside of the expensive holiday periods.

Ski companies, including Ski Famille, have complained as we have reported here.

PlanetSKI is opposed to the law too.

See here for the views and experiences of the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, and his family - Dear Mr Gove...You are talking utter tosh.

The outcome of today's case might re-define the way the law is interpreted.

64,000 fines were issued for unauthorised absences between September 2013 and August 2014.

Mr Platt has crowdfunded the £25,000 to cover legal costs.

There has been some reaction over on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:

Mark Barber - For once common sense has won - a big victory for families that have been systematically ripped off by tour operators knowing families are forced to book in school holidays

Brian Bruce - Great to see petty officialdom get it in the ass.

James Blakelock - Just go skiing!

Jan Oakes - Common sense at last

Lynee Ahearne - Just go skiing.

Jane Reeves - I was a teacher for 31 years and am in support of parents having the right to take the kids on holiday when it is convenient for them. Tour operators need to adjust their prices during school holidays then parents wouldn't feel the need to opt for the cheaper options. If a kid misses school through illness for a week or more, no one says that they will be disadvantaged in their education.

Claire Almond - looks like he has won !

Jessica Nolan-bowers - Of course time on the hill is a gift for children and should be encouraged!!!

Becky Horton - So what will this actually mean? Could absence be authorised for holidays in term-time if attendance is over 90% or will it just mean that the government will tighten regulations to cover every eventuality! In the meantime, I guess it paves the way for thousands to reclaim their fines back!


See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

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