Supreme Court rules that taking a child out of school in term time for the purposes of a holiday is an offence

by Sandra Meakins on April 6, 2017
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Mr Platt took his child out of school during term time for 5 days to go on holiday.  This was an unauthorised absence so the school sent him a fixed penalty notice requiring him to pay a fine which he refused to pay.  He argued that his child had attended school “regularly” and therefore he was not guilty of committing an offence.  The matter was decided today by the Supreme Court on appeal by the local education authority, supported by the Secretary of State for Education. Mr Platt lost his argument and he can be prosecuted and convicted of a criminal offence for not sending his child to school “regularly”.

The correct interpretation of the word “regularly” is not

1.        At regular intervals – i.e. every Monday

2.       Sufficiently frequently

The correct interpretation means that a child must attend school “in accordance with the rules”.  Lady Hale, giving the judgment also commented that there are very good policy reasons why children should attend school in term time unless they cannot do so due to ill health or some other justifiable reason.

Sandra Meakins , family law partner in our Farnham office comments  “This decision has clarified what the consequences are for parents who wish to take their children out of school to go on holiday although it will be controversial.”   Sandra and our team of family lawyers in our other offices can help you with matters concerning children and finances in relation to any family matter.