Isle Of Wight Dad Loses Term-Time Holiday Battle

A dad from the Isle of Wight has lost a landmark legal battle at the UK's highest court over taking his daughter to Disney World during school term-time.

Five justices at the Supreme Court unanimously allowed an appeal by education chiefs against an earlier ruling that Jon Platt had not acted unlawfully.

Mr Platt, who took his daughter on a seven-day family trip to Florida in April 2015 without the school's permission, was prosecuted by Isle of Wight Council after he refused to pay a £120 penalty.

But local magistrates found there was no case to answer.

Two High Court judges in London later upheld the magistrates' decision, declaring Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90%.

They said the magistrates were entitled to take into account the ``wider picture'' of the child's attendance record outside of the dates she was absent on the holiday.

In an action closely watched by schools and parents all over the country, the council urged the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court decision, saying it raised important issues over what constitutes ''regular attendance'' at school.

The justices ruled in the council's favour.

The High Court had cleared Mr Platt of failing to ensure his daughter attended school regularly, as required by section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996.

The panel of Supreme Court justices, including the court's president Lord Neuberger, declared that Parliament's intention was that the word "regularly" means "in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school".

Mr Platt's case now has to return to the magistrates' court as a result of the decision.

Speaking after the ruling was given, Mr Platt said he was "not at all surprised'' at the judgment.

He said: "I'm pleased that they acknowledged the judgment doesn't go on to say what the school rules should be. Schools need to think very carefully about what these rules should be.

"Some have policies that mean that every day missed is a criminal offence."

He added that schools need to build in some flexibility to "attenuate the shocking outcome of this case".

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