Term-time Holidays

Term-time holidays: What are the rules?

Jon Platt the Isle of Wight father rose to national fame in 2015 after refusing to pay school absence fines. Mr. Platt had taken his six-year-old daughter on holiday during term time and he argued that as his daughter had over a 93% attendance, the decision to take her out of school for a few days was his decision as a parent to take.

Isle of Wight magistrates threw out the case, saying Mr Platt had no case to answer. The council took the case to the High Court for clarification and yet again Mr Platt won. The matter then progressed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld the ban on parents taking their children out of school for family holidays during term time.  This landmark decision is likely to affect millions of parents’ decisions about taking their children out of school to go on holiday.

Why did the Supreme Court take a different view?

The Supreme Court found that the magistrates—and indeed the High Court—were wrong to conclude that Mr Platt was not guilty of an offence. The court considered that ‘regular’ could have three possible meanings:

  1. At regular intervals

  2. Sufficiently frequently, or

  3. In accordance with the rules

The court unanimously determined that the third of these options was the correct interpretation as to the meaning of regular in relation to school attendance.

What discretion does it give schools to set the rules?

This is an important judgment for both schools and parents. The decision confirms the position that school attendance and ‘what is considered regular attendance’ is a matter for schools and local authorities and is not a matter of discretion for parents.

What are the likely consequences of this decision?

Prosecutions were already rising in recent years suggesting a stricter approach than perhaps that taken previously. After a period of uncertainty while this case was going through the courts, the decision is likely to give local authorities and schools the confidence to deal with non-attendance robustly.

Therefore, if in doubt regarding a term-time holiday read the school policy which will set out what you can and cannot do as parents.


For advice in relation to family matters please contact Sarah on 01664 563162 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Oldham Marsh Page Flavell are Solicitors in Melton Mowbray.

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