In a case which began with a £60 fine for taking his daughter on a term-time holiday, Jon Platt’s legal battle ended in defeat in the Supreme Court yesterday, the BBC reports.
The Supreme Court ruled against Jon Platt who had won earlier legal battles against paying a £120 fine by the Isle of Wight council.
Mr Platt told reporters the decision, over an unauthorised trip to Florida, amounted to the “state taking the rights away from parents.”
Prime Minister Theresa May weighed in on the much debated case, following the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“It’s right that the individual head teach has that flexibility to make that decision,” she said.
The judges’ decision was centred on what was meant by ‘regular attendance’ at school. The Court ruled that the interpretation should be decided by the school.
The decision also clarifies that parents in England can be fined if their children miss schools without the agreement of the head teacher, except for reasons such as illness or family bereavement.
But Mr Platt said parents would find it “utterly shocking” that they needed the “permission of the state” to decide on school attendance.
“You are not the final arbiter of what’s right for your child,” he added.
In her judgement, Lady Hale said allowing parents to take children out of term-time for holidays would cause too much disruption.
“Unauthorised absences have a disruptive effect, not only on the education of the individual child, but also on the work of other pupils, and of their teachers,” she said.
Allowing parents to decide when they took their children away would be a “slap in the face” to parents who kept the rules, said Lady Hale.
The Supreme Court ruling, which upheld the appeal by the Isle of Wight council and the Department for Education, means that the case will be returned to the magistrates’ court, where Mr Platt says he will continue to plead not guilty.
The court found that the penalty notice had been properly issued and without a reasonable cause for the absence, Mr Platt could have expected to face a fine.
Much needed clarity
Head teachers’ leader Malcolm Trobe welcomed the court’s decision, saying that it ended a “period of uncertainty” over term-time holidays.
But Liberal Democrat education spokesman, John Pugh, said the ruling was “disappointing” and called for more “flexibility” for families.
“Many employees have no choice when to take their holidays… Others simply cannot afford to go on holiday at peak times, when the cost of holidays goes through the roof,” he said.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with our position – that no child should be taken out of school without good reason.
“As before, head teachers have the ability to decide when exceptional circumstances allow for a child to be absent but today’s ruling removes the uncertainty for schools and local authorities that was created by the previous judgment.
“The evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.”