Lord Justice Lloyd Jones upheld a decision by Isle of Wight magistrates that a father who took his
six-year-old daughter out of school to go to Florida had no case to answer. In 2013 the then-Education Secretary, Michael Gove, introduced a fixed penalty of £60 for parents who take children away without agreement from the school. Jon Platt, a 45-year-old company director from
the Isle of Wight, refused to pay the penalty. He was taken to court under the 1996 Education Act. But
last October, magistrates dismissed the case against the businessman. The Isle of Wight Council took the case to the High Court to seek a definitive ruling, but were told by the judge: “The magistrates did not err in law.”
Simon Calder exclusive interview with Jon Platt
Outside the court, Mr Platt said: “The law is nice and clear: if your kids go to school regularly, you
can take them on holiday during term time. ” He told The Independent: “Hundreds of teachers and head teachers have contacted me over the past few
months to say it ’s an absolute fiction that this is disruptive to the school. A child who’s doing well, who ’s out of school for a week, does absolutely no harm.” But Jonathan Bacon, Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, told The Independent: “We have clear statistical information that every day of absence affects the chances a child has of getting good results at school.
High Court allows parents to take children on holiday in term-time “This is not a question about who is in the right and who is in the wrong. It’s a question of trying to clarify how to get the best educational results not just across the Isle of Wight but across the country, because that is clearly related to attendance at school. " He called on the Department for Education to provide “the clarity that the court failed to give us this morning”. A DfE spokesperson said: “We are confident our policy to reduce school absence is clear and correct. The judgment implies that the definition of “regular attendance” is set at 90 per cent - a figure Mr Platt's daughter achieved even with the holiday. The Independent calculates that children with otherwise unblemished attendance records will be able to be away for up to 19 days - nearly four weeks in an academic year without fear of breaking the law.
Mr Platt was happy with the prospect that one in 10 of the children in his daughter’s class could be
absent on holiday at any one time. “We’ll have small class sizes, won’t we?,” he said. Tens of thousands of parents who have paid fixed penalties - regarding them as part of the cost of the
holiday - may now seek to have their money refunded.