Will you be criminalised?

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Sandown beach

Sandown on the Isle of Wight. Allowing parents to take their children on holiday in term-time culd mean more tourists for the isle.

On Tuesday, the appeal against Jon Platt’s win in allowing him to take his daughter out of school in term time was heard in the Supreme Court. Readers will know that Platt was fined by the Isle of Wight council, won his court case and now the council has appealed. Speaking for the court, Lord Neuberger said the judgement would be delivered “in due course.” That would seem to mean months.

Meanwhile the BBC announced that it had found out that 35 councils had altered their guidance and were not fining parents, presumably whilst awaiting the final decision. Five are reviewing the guidance that they provide to schools and 28 have withdrawn fines issued to parents. The Department for Education and school heads seem to be saying that taking one day off can affect a child’s attainment potential

The BBC quoted Stephen Gorard from Durham University as saying that he believes the department has overstated its case in telling parents that missing just a few days of school for a holiday can damage pupils’ chances of getting good GCSEs.  “It’s not fair to be that adamant about the link. We know there is an association between lower attainment and missing school – but we conflate all the different causes.”

Platt doesn’t seem to be very confident about success and, on his Facebook page, wonders whether he has lost. That he seems to accept that view is suggested by a further message suggesting that parents ask their county councillors (it is election time for county councils this coming May) “to give an undertaking that if you vote for them they will insist that the code of conduct in respect of unauthorised absence allows for a reasonable interpretation… that parents will not face fines or prosecution if their children have better than 90% attendance.”

But has the department’s barrister pressed the case too strongly as he is quoted as saying “…absence for even a single day, or even half a day, would constitute an offence.” It is asking a lot for the Supreme Court to uphold such a stringent view and make criminals out of hundreds of thousands of parents?

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