Judgment in Term-time Holiday Case Published

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Posted on 03 Jun 2016

The High Court has published its judgment in the case of Jon Platt, the father prosecuted after he took his child out of school for a family holiday to Florida.

Mr Platt took his daughter out of school for seven days in April 2015, having sought and been refused permission to do so. At the time he made his request his daughter’s attendance rate was 100%. The child’s mother (the parents are separated) took the child out of school for five days in February 2015. Mr Platt did not know about his ex-wife’s plans at the time he made the request, nor at the time of booking the holiday. 

S444 Education Act 1996 provides that a parent is guilty of an offence if their child fails to attend school regularly.

The High Court agreed with the magistrates’ ruling that Mr Platt’s daughter had not failed to attend school regularly and that he had no case to answer. The question whether attendance had been regular could not be ascertained solely by reference to the period of absence in April 2015. It was necessary to have regard to the period of absence in a wider context of attendance. The magistrates were bound to consider whether there was regular school attendance in the light of all the evidence, including the school's record of attendance. This indicated that her overall attendance record in the relevant academic year was 90.2%. The local authority’s documents indicated that attendance of 90-95% was satisfactory. In the circumstances the magistrates’ conclusion was one which was reasonably open to them.

The Court refused to rule on whether the absence of a definition of “regular attendance” means that S444 is far too vague to be the basis of a criminal offence, let alone an offence of strict liability.

The full judgment can be viewed here

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