A dad has won his appeal against term-time holiday fines in a landmark High Court ruling, which could determine if parents are able to take their children out of school for a holiday.
Jon Platt, 44, from Nettlestone on the Isle of Wight, said he was “hugely relieved”, according to Sky News.
He added: “I know that there was an awful lot riding on this – not just for me but for hundreds of other parents.”
Platt had been fined £120 for taking his seven-year-old daughter on an unauthorised holiday to Disney World in Florida in April 2015.
Platt fought the decision, claiming he should avoid punishment because his daughter has an exemplary attendance record.
“I hadn’t committed a criminal offence. The law simply says your children must attend school regularly and mine have,” he explained on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Platt was cleared by Isle of Wight magistrates, but the council took the case to the High Court to seek clarification on what constitutes regular attendance.
On Friday 13 May, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones upheld the magistrates decision that Platt had no case to answer.
The High Court ruling suggests that other parents may be able to argue against term-time holiday penalties.
A Department for Education spokesperson told The Huffingotn Post UK:
“We are disappointed with the High Court judgment.
“The evidence is clear that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chance of gaining good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.
“We are confident our policy to reduce school absence is clear and correct.
“We will examine today’s judgement in detail but are clear that children’s attendance at school is non-negotiable so we will now look to change the legislation.
“We also plan to strengthen statutory guidance to schools and local authorities.”
Following a government crackdown on term-time absences in 2013, parents who take children out of school without permission can be issued with a £60 fine per child.
If that fine is not paid within 21 days it rises to £120 and after 28 days it will be claimed through reductions in child benefit.
Those who fail to pay can face prosecution.
Speaking on the morning of the trial Platt explained it wasn’t the cost that motivated to take his daughter out of school for a holiday.
“For 10 years I’ve been trying to get a window where all my family could go,” he said.
“We managed to get 15 of us on that holiday, and we hadn’t been able to do that for 10 years. It was nothing to do with cost. In fact I think the cost was the same on the day we flew as if we’d flown a week earlier.”