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A father who refused to pay the fine imposed on him by his local council after he took his daughter out of school during term time has won a ruling in his favour.
The Isle of Wight Council fined Jon Platt £60 for taking his child on holiday during the school term without the express permission of her school. He refused to pay and the fine was doubled.
The dispute went before the Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court in October when Mr Platt won the case. But the Isle of Wight Council appealed against the decision at the High Court in London. Today, 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.
"I do not consider it is open to an authority to criminalise every unauthorised holiday by the simple device of alleging that there has been no regular attendance in a period limited to the absence on holiday.
"The school's attendance register showed that M had an attendance rate of 92.35%.
"I consider the magistrates correctly had regard to the wider picture.
"In all the circumstances of this case I am unable to say their conclusion was not one reasonably open to them."
Outside the court steps, Mr Platt said he was 'hugely relieved'.
"I am obviously hugely relieved. I know that there was an awful lot riding on this - not just for me but for hundreds of other parents."
The magistrates decided Mr Platt had "no case to answer" because no evidence had been produced to prove that his daughter - who is now aged seven and can only be referred to as M for legal reasons - had failed to attend school "regularly".
The Isle of Wight council has said it is to seek clarification on the rules over parents taking children on holidays during the school term from the Department for education.
The Isle of Wight Council has released a statement in response to losing a case at the High Court against a dad who took his child on holiday during term time.
Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, took his daughter out of school during term time to go on a holiday to Florida. He refused to pay a fine for doing so, saying his daughter's overall school attendance was very good - and her absences were below the threshold stated in education guidelines.
The leader of the council said they would be passing the case to the Department for Education for further clarification on the matter, "...for the benefit of parents, schools and local authorities alike."
“This case was always about seeking clarification on this matter and unfortunately today's ruling has created massive uncertainty and cast a shadow of doubt over the policies of schools and local authorities across the country.
“The Department for Education had outlined what it considered to be ‘regular’ attendance, which was that children should attend school every day, and it is under that assumption that we acted. It is also clear that attendance and educational attainment are intertwined, however today's ruling may be taken to imply that parents can take children out of school on holiday for up the three weeks every year. This will clearly have a detrimental effect on the education of those children, the rest of their class and their teachers.
“I'm very disappointed about the failure to give clear guidance today. We need to consider the impact of this on the Island but it is clear it will also have an affect across the country. We will be pressing the Department for Education to urgently consider creating clear legislation on this matter for the benefit of parents, schools and local authorities alike.”
More about the school holidays during term time case.
The dad who refused to pay a fine for taking his six-year-old daughter out of school for a family trip to Florida said today's High Court ruling is a "victory for common sense."
Jon Platt was fined £60 by Isle of Wight Council after he took his family on the holiday, which included a visit to Walt Disney World, without permission from his child's school.
The fine was then doubled when he refused to pay and the case went before Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court in October.
Mr Platt won but the local authority appealed against the decision.
Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall dismissed the challenge, ruling that the magistrates had not "erred in law" when reaching their decision.
High Court says parents can take children out of school for holidays in some circumstances
The High Court has ruled in favour of a father who took his daughter out of school to go on holiday.
Jon Platt refused to pay £120 for taking his six-year-old to Disney World Florida last year and because of her regular attendance, Isle of Wight magistrates ruled he had no case to answer.
But the council asked the High Court to rule on whether taking a seven-day absence amounts to regular attendance.
The ruling raises the prospect of similar challenges from parents of children in English state schools, for which tightened rules on authorised absences were introduced by the government in 2013.