Dad Wins Term-Time Holiday High Court Fight

13 May 2016
Dad Wins Term-Time Holiday High Court Fight

A dad who refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school to attend a family holiday during term-time has won his battle in the High Court.

BBC News reports:

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 dismissed the council's challenge, ruling that the magistrates had not "erred in law" when reaching their decision.

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

According to media reports, this looks to be a landmark ruling which changes the way the law - which states only that parents must ensure their children attend school regularly - is applied.

In other words, it could see the end of a term-time ban on holidays, provided that the child attends school regularly. Great news for parents and carers who feel priced out of family holidays due to term-time holiday restrictions and the high cost of going on holiday during school holidays.

Current regulations, introduced in 2013, allow a school's principal to grant permission for a child to be taken out of school during term time in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Platt was initially fined £60 by the council for taking his daughter out of school for seven days to attend a family holiday in Disney World, Florida. This was doubled to £120 after he failed to pay within the timescale. The authority argued that the absence didn't meet the 'exceptional circumstances' rule but Platt refused to pay up and took the dispute all the way to the High Court, which ruled in his favour.

However change may be short lived as a Department for Education source told Sky News: "We will look at the judgement in detail but are clear that children's attendance at school is non-negotiable so we will now look to change the law."

Do you welcome this landmark ruling and would being able to take your child out of school to during term-time change your holiday plans? We'd love to hear your thoughts - share them in the comments below or join the debate over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parenting Tips


  • Fay P.

    Term time holiday prices will soon creep up, just watch!

  • Kelly T.

    We didn't have to pay must depend on length of time off

    • Libby A.

      It's only at the discretion of the school. If the school choose to fine the council have to as long as the school have follow all the procedures.

    • Janice H.

      Both myself and my sons stepdad was issued with a fine of £120 each (£60 each if paid within 14 days) and when I rung our local authority (Lancashire) to appeal on the grounds on his attendance consistently being above 95% in the 3 years he had been at his school, I was told that fines are automatically issued after the forth day absent (which would make it eight sessions) and they only take into consideration the attendance percentage over the 6 week term period previous to thr absence as grounds to appeal. As I had taken him out of school without permission (headmaster denied it when I requested holiday permission) at the end of Sept/beginning of October which resulted in his attendance being 85% for that time period. I was told that should I take it to court I would be risking a £1000 and a criminal record and as I'm training to be a social worker and my partner is a self employed business man who works with the public we simply couldn't risk it :-(

  • Joanne S.

    I know!!! common sense prevails!!!

  • Amanda H.

    Doubt it will change anything it was never about children's education just another way to get money out of us 'little people' X

    • delta181

      I totally agree with you!

  • Paula C.

    Education is not solely about academic learning. As a parent I believe I am best placed to determine the overall well being of my children. I also would take accountability for missed classroom work to ensure my child caught up. I think the rules in this space are wrong! Well done that judge.

    • Donna K.

      100% agree

    • Debra K.

      I am a teacher and I say if only all parents were the same I would agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately back on planet earth they aren't and not only would many many children miss out on their education being off at least we know they are safe at school.

    • Paula C.

      It's a difficult one Debra. I have many teacher friends and have some, 2nd hand, appreciation of the challenges. It just feels like the rules about attendance are not necessarily fair to address the specific problem of some families. That said it's easy to moan about something but much more difficult to come up with an alternative solution so we do need to go with it really.

    • delta181

      Very seems only schools know what is best for our children these days

  • Lauren B.

    Just read this karen! Gona b alot of people now refusing to pay

  • Karen B.

    I reckon they will have to scrap the finest soon!!

  • Ellen M.

    Well done that man for taking it all the way! It's an absolute disgrace that it even came to this.

  • Clare P.

    I'm in Scotland never been fined

    • Lesley M.

      I was told by our primary school it up too the individual school and they don't believe in fining parents ! We saved £800 taking out son out just before the hold started last year ! It's a big difference in cost !!

  • Lesley M.

    :thumbsup_tone1: heard it on news !! Radio 2 lol

  • Carl H.

    Bye bye fines!!:grinning:

  • Cheryl F.

    Good on him! As long as your attendance is good, and there isn't exams etc coming up, then I don't see why kids aren't allowed say a maximum of 10 days off (like it used to be)

  • Nicki M.

    It's all about a childs attendance. If it's good then it will be allowed. We're going to Chessington next week, because with 4 kids I simply can't be doing with the long queues in the half terms and you can't get the toddler ticket in half term either for £20

    • Nicki M.

      Shut up, have you seen the size of the queues there in the half term. Not ideal for a 16 month old. Don't even go there about setting examples to my kids. Theme park queues are a bit different to shop queues, so go jog on quietly back to your oh so perfect parenting!

    • Maxine E.

      Your response speaks volumes. You have voiced your opinion and I am entitled to voice mine. If you feel it appropriate to take children out of school to go to a theme park that you could quite easily go to in half term but in your words you can't be doing with then go ahead and have a good day.

    • Nicki M.

      I will, incase you hadn't noticed I also said about the price difference with the toddler ticket deal. I can get myself and my youngest in for £20 rather than £47 each, quite a price difference. So I will do with my kids as I please. Yours or no one's input means nothing to how I parent my kids, because quite frankly I'm doing a perfectly good job, regardless of what anyone thinks. That's all parents need to think, as long as they're doing their best sod what anyone else thinks because what anyone else thinks means nothing.

    • Maxine E.

      Absolutely true. But if you can't take the comments don't post on social media for everyone to read and respond to. You are entitled to set whatever example you want to your children but post about it on here for the world to read and expect any comment anyone chooses to make in reply.

  • Andrea B.

    I'm taking my three kids out for five days next month. I'm preparing myself for a £360 fine as in our area they charge £60 per child per parent. It's ridiculous.

    • Jo M.

      the penalty fine only triggers if over 10 days! so don't worry x

    • Jo M.

      we kept boys for 4 days when we went nz/ said penalty triggers after 10's ridiculous my kids learned so much more on our experiences x

    • Andrea B.

      It is love. Our holidays this year aren't exactly educational but we desperately need them. This last year has been really hard and we need this time as a family. So let them fine away. I'll still be taking them and won't pay it if it comes to it lol x

    • Elizabeth B.

      It varies from school to school. We recently had letters from our local authority to say t has reduced from 10 to 5.

    • Lorraine B.

      I was fined last year for taking my son out of school for a hol with grandparents. Im going to ask for my money back.

  • Becky R.

    Having read the report it now looks like the law will get re written to avoid this loophole. Dep of Ed stating 'attendance is compulsory '. I have a feeling we will get fined for taking my 14 year old out on the LAST HALF day of school when all they will be doing is having a class party!!!!! Someone please tell me what my child will miss out on academically.

    • Becky W.

      I got threatened with a fine for just that. Last day of term. School due to finish at 13.30. Take out an hour for lunch, 30 mins assembly, 30 mins playtime. Thats 2 hours of school we would have missed. ( would love to know what critical piece of education they did in that 2 hours) And both children doing really well, excellent attendance, never in late book. Bloody madness........

    • Rhiannon M.

      You cannot be fined for one unauthorised day (2 sessions), there are variations from between local authorities but there are minimum and maximum numbers of unauthorised absences that must me met in order to issue a penalty notice. If your child has great attendance and you have one unauthorised day off, there is sod all they can do about it! I'd call bullshit on that threat from the school!!

    • Becky R.

      I'm risking it but the letter sent did hold a threat! I almost want to have the argument with them! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

    • Jo D.

      Do a sicky ?!

    • Lisa B.

      I would just say (and have several times) they have the dentist

  • Emma S.


  • Laura K.

    The comments by the education dept in response to the ruling are provocative at best. Education is important in a child's life however, no child of mine will be 'forced' by law or anyone else, to attend school. Education is a large part of our children's lives, OUR children, not children of the state. The responsibility for their education lies with me. I decide at what age they attend school, which school they go to and ultimately when they attend. Given that this would probably only be when they were ill, or import at family events that they would miss a short time of school-I wouldn't put my children's learning at risk for the sake of probing a point, but for me this only makes home schooling seem like an increasingly attractive option. This government needs to focus on how they can represent and support families, not disempower and dictate to them.

  • Raymond M.

    Shameful piece of legislation that simultaneously protects rip-off summer prices for holiday companies, and attacks the pockets of normal everyday people. As a 13 year old back in 1999, I was taken on a 2 week holiday to Italy during term-time, and was given memories & experiences I still talk about with people to this day. My family done this many times through the years while I was at school, devastatingly I only graduated University with a 2:1 degree. Clearly my weeks away during term-time are responsible for this!

    • Annie B.

      I understand your point when it comes to holidays, but a lot of schools have seen attendances rise as parents make more of an effort to get the kids both to school and there on time as they're worried about the fines.

    • Melanie T.

      but the issue is that we live in a free market, companies can charge what they want for products. at the end of the day a holiday is a luxury item not a human right. it would be like the government saying that ford and bmw must charge the same for their cars to make it affordable, they are not going to do that. I've worked in the travel industry for many years and know what little profit a term time holiday makes the company, they charge more I the school holidays because demand goes up (simple economics). holidays for Aug 2016 for example go on sale April 2015, with low deposits, free kids places and other incentives, people need to plan better it's that simple.

    • guest

      Annie B According to this from the department of Education: "Unauthorised absence rates have remained stable at 1.1 per cent." The best bit: “The percentage of all possible sessions missed due to all family holidays decreased from 0.6 per cent in 2012/13, to 0.4 per cent in 2013/14."

      What are we doing wasting parliamentary, court and school time coming up with this scheme when clearly the issue is with a very small minority? They should go back to the old system where parents were allowed to take their children out of school for up to 10 days per year, on condition their attendance was good, a far more common sense approach. Instead we have this, where a parent had to raise a 5 figure amount in money to fight legally. Plus goodness knows what the Government spent in legal fees trying to pointlessly fight it, and a huge potential cost in refunds to many of these fines.

    • guest

      Melanie T that's fine saying that but I'm not actually allowed to book my leave from work until the January so I would not be able to "buy in the sale" so your point is clearly what has been drilled into you whilst working in the travel industry every family situation is different remember that!!! If your taking them out of school for your own benefit to laze around the pool but to take them out to properly experience culture and fulfil their childhood dreams is completely different.

    • guest

      Melanie T Unfortunately not that simple, as the “free market" exploit in an unrestrained manner people's habits. A flight or hotel both have a fixed capacity, you just can't add extra at a whim. If I say want to fly to Milan from my local airport in August, this sets me back over £200. If I want to go just exactly a month later the price almost halves, yet the timetable of flights is the exact same. Same with hotels, tariffs on a Saturday can be double, even treble the cost than staying on a Sunday. Yet you'd think Sunday would be more costly with bigger wages for staff to work that day, but it's far cheaper anyway. The cost staying one day should be no more or less for any other day, yet it is and it's for the simple reason Saturday is the most likely day folk will start their stay, in the name of milking the most money from them.

      Companies should be able to make money of course, as they need to in order to keep running and investing to their services. My point is we've hit too large of extremes for either side. You either get an absolute bargain, or royally fleeced. This is down to the industry being able to price unrestrained, much like the mobile phone companies would have continued to do so if not for the EU charge capping laws. Something similar for travel and accommodation would be a good solution.

  • Katie S.

    I took my children to disneyland just under 3 weeks ago for 5 days my boy hasn't had a day off since he started year 1 in September he is up to date with all his school work and gets a lot of input at home the head didn't say we could go but didn't think we would get a fine haven't heard anything yet if we did I wouldn't pay it also done home work before and after we went and he made a diary of what we did I can't see any problem

  • Keira D.

    If we could I would take my kids out of school for a week for a holiday. If they were up to date with work and had good attendance there is no problem with them missing 1 week. I wouldn't do it in important years though. My other half is a cover supervisor at a secondary school so we cant do it even if they changed the law.

  • Katiekate

    I say well done to the chap. I'm a teacher and I personally don't think there is anything wrong with taking children out of school if their general attendance is good. Obviously there are times when this wouldn't be good eg exam periods etc but for some it's the only chance they get for a holiday and if that means missing school then so be it. It's not the be all and end all plus like someone else commented learning doesn't just take place in the classroom. Visiting other cultures and places is all learning too. I'm just jealous I can't holiday in term time. The government are thinking of making all schools academies so that schools can pick their own holidays. This to me is crazy and will cause a whole host of problems that these idiots fail to consider. 

  • Amy P.

    Think we will have to start fining them when our children return after having dvd days and doing bugger all as supply teachers didn't make them.

    • Becky C.

      Ha or the next time they strike

    • Rhiannon M.

      Next time they strike?! Do you not think the people that educate your children deserve to be appropriately paid? Staff don't get paid if they choose to strike so by doing so their already losing out.

  • Rosemary B.

    That's great news :blush: it's hard financially when you have a family to support and having to pay premium rates during school holidays means many families simply can't afford a holiday.

  • Leigh M.

    What about induction days? Time spent doing shows/playing games/having parties/assemblys/dvd days etc... are they not missing vital education on these days?

  • David H.

    It doesn't mean a end to fines,it means they will re-write the rule book stating that children must not be taken out of school during term times...there's to much money to be lost if they let this go.

  • Chaz D.

    This is just a middle-class problem. The rest of us can only dream of going on any holiday at any time of the year.

    • Annie B.

      Apparently attendance has risen in poorer areas because parents can't afford the fines. Which is good for the kids in many ways, but I think it's pretty sad that it takes the prospect of a fine for some parents to get their kids in on time.

    • Emma L.

      Not all. Lots of working class save and take on holiday .

    • Chaz D.

      If you can save up to go on holiday you are doing pretty well. Poor people can't.

  • Joanne J.

    He paid 15,000 pounds in court fees! :slight_frown:

    • Lisa L.

      Idiot then really!!

    • Joanne J.

      Yeah it defeats the object really, x

    • Neil G.

      I think he was supported by a charity for upto 25k

    • Joanne J.

      If that's true that is shocking, I read that he was trying to claim the money back from the courts cos he win his case...I know the fines are not just about the money but the principal too but 15,000 pounds is defeating the object a bit.

  • Cecilia K.

    All pupils should be entitled one term time holiday per school year of up to 3 weeks in length. Some life skills and experiences just cant be learned in the classroom!

    • Annie B.

      3 weeks is an awful lot of school.

    • Cecilia K.

      Up to 3 weeks. I went travelling through canada and america for 3 weeks when i was in secondary school. I know its not your typical spanish package holiday for a week but personally i know alot of families with kids who travel the world for longer then a week.

    • Annie B.

      Surely that's why we have extended school holidays, though? And so few families can afford that kind of holiday anyway, why should the law work around those very few? Surely the government has to work to increase the school-wide attendance rate, not work around those lucky few who want to (and can afford to) take their kids away for a few weeks?

    • Cecilia K.

      Most families i know that take their children on holiday cant always get leave from work during the "six weeks holiday". If they work damn hard to go on holiday once a year why should schools dictate when they can go?? I took my kids away to spain in term time, told the school im going with or without their blessing, on my return was a letter from school stating that because my childrens attendance was over 85% they wouldnt be fining me. The goverment are tying to enforce it to make £££ and its a joke!

  • Nicola S.

    To bloody right! 5 days off out of a whole year what about all the bloody school holidays! I was always taken out of school and I have a degree! #termtimeholidays

  • Danielle M.

    Regardless id rather pay £60 than pay over £500-1000 more! My daughter starts school September and I can say she will be having a holiday every year

  • Lisa J.

    Yes just seen, fantastic ! So happy for him. At last we can decide for ourselves. Having 2 weeks out of school a year does no harm, great for the kids mental health. When we took time out we always took homework with us so not a problem x yayyyy :tada:

  • Laura E.

    I went to Oz for six weeks when I was ten and I remember the experience so fondly. My mum and I travelled across the globe together stopping off In dubai, Singapore and finally Oz :) so many experiences and so much education. Education isn't just in the classroom :)

  • Lisa J.

    Definitely. I think some people argue that those kids from poorer backgrounds may lose out coz parents may not 'educate them' as such, may just sit drinking somewhere BUT that can never be stopped, still most parents care for their kids and want the best for them and are responsible for them so we have to trust that most parents will have the kids health and welfare as a priority but this fining is mad and so draconian. Infuriating actually.

  • Jennifer H.

    So glad he won. Why this policy was ever past is a joke in itself. Obviously sensible timings like not around exams or at the start of terms when settling in but otherwise where is the harm? his daughter was only 6 years old so it's not like it was going to impact on her entire future educational career.

  • Melanie T.

    cue everyone moaning about holiday companies! blah blah blah. they are companies not charities, they respond to supply and demand

  • Cheryl L.

    Travel companies still need to be made accountable for their prices. I work in a school so have no choice when I go

  • Emma L.

    Those saying won't have to pay now . The law hasn't changed . The government us going to rewrite so no loophole . Might find that the under 5 days disappears as does the exceptional circumstances criteria so don't celebrate just yet .

  • Annie S.

    The argument of the education authority though is not valid, saying that even one day of missed school can have a detrimental effect. It doesn't stop them closing several schools for a day for elections or strikes or teacher training days.

    • Cathy D.

      I think the point is no one gets taught on those days. When you don't go to school on a day everyone else does you miss the teaching and therefore might fall behind. A week is allot of teaching to miss if you don't have parents supporting you with learning at home, which hopefully all parents do :)

    • Annie S.

      I don't think it would be enough to have a life changing impact. Like the chap who got a 2:1 degree even though he was out of school on holiday for 2 weeks. It should be a decision for the parents.

  • Beverley J.


  • Dean P.

    Absolutely should be the end of this... A stupid legislation. Anyone who thinks these fines are right is a clown. My generation got out of school often and had no impact on their academic performance.

  • Susan F.

    This government so out of touch with ordinary people when will they stop interfering in our parenting and remember parents no best and children soon grow up. There is more to life than tests tests tests.

  • Melanie T.

    but a holiday is a luxury item not a human right. it would be like some moaning to the government that they want a bmw but can only afford a Kia, and then making bmw reduce their prices!! planning early is the key with holidays they go sale nearly 17 months before you go so book early and save up

    • Anna L.

      I plan two years early and it's still 13k for Orlando in August and 6k if I go November so planning early doesn't make any difference there

  • Linzi F.

    Why is nobody taking on the rip off tourist industry that forces parents to take kids out of school in the first place? ??

  • Valerie A.

    Why don't they just concentrate on getting the regular non-attenders into school? There are plenty of children with less than 80 per cent attendance and they are missing a full year of schooling.

  • mum05

    Took our 10yr old out of school last year during term time explained to head teacher we needed the holiday as my husband had just finished a 6 mths of chemo for cancer..... we had a hard time telling family and my young son we needed this holiday as the treatment was through summer holidays so could not go until after treatment had finished WE GOT FINED disgraceful after such a hard painful time especially for a young boy and my husband      he is clear now but this law stinks

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