Family holidays are meant to be opportunities for you and your children to relax, spend time bonding, and make memories that will last for a lifetime.
However, over the past few years the government has cracked down on parents who take their children on holiday during term time in an attempt to stop children from missing out on their education.
Needless to say, this has caused an uproar amongst parents – some of whom cannot afford to pay the enormous fees that travel companies charge during school holidays. Jon Platt's recent victory in court has, however, sparked a change in the way local councils should approach parents who take their children on holiday during term time.
If you are unsure about the rules relating to taking your child out of school during term time, our guidance below answers some of the questions you might be asking.
Do Schools Allow Children To Go On Holiday During Term Time?
If you want to take your child – or children – out of a state school during term time in England, you will need to ask their head teacher for permission first.
Usually, absences will only be granted if there's 'exceptional circumstances', for example if you're visiting a family member who has a serious illness or you need to attend a funeral.
It's highly unlikely that you'll be allowed to take your child out of school for a family holiday during term time.
There's still a debate about what types of events fall under the category of exceptional circumstances.
Does This Rule Apply To Children Attending Private Schools?
As independent and private schools have their own policies and procedures and don't follow the same rules as state schools, parents who take children out of private schools for holidays during term time won't be fined or have to face court action.
However, this doesn't mean that parents can take their children out of school on numerous occasions during term time. Independent and private schools have their own code of conduct that staff, parents, and students must follow and they do have to notify their local education authority about some unauthorised absences.
What Legal Action Could Be Taken Against Me If I Take My Children Out Of School?
As the High Court ruled in Jon Platt's case that term-time absences should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, local education authorities will most likely need to reevaluate the way in which they issue parents with fines.
However, the current rules on term-time absences still apply. If local schools and councils believe that your child is missing out on their education, they can issue you with a fine of £60, which will increase to £120 if it's not paid within 21 days.
Councils have different rules when it comes to the types of fines given to parents who have taken their children out of school. We recommend that you check the rules in your local area before you make any decisions.
Julie Robertson In The Media
After winning her case on term-time holiday challenges at the High Court, Julie Robertson, Solicitor at Simpson Millar LLP, discusses the ins and outs of parents rights in the media.
"What constitutes reasonable attendance should be a discretionary matter for the Magistrates. It is not something you can put a blanket figure on without taking into account the academic record of each individual child."
"Attendance alone does not guarantee that a child will do well academically, nor does missing a few classes prevent them from succeeding. In my view, there is a clear difference between truancy, and taking a child out of school for other reasons."
"Prosecuting parents does not in any way help children to learn. Parenting decisions should not be based on fear of prosecution but on what is best for the child in a much broader context than simply ensuring they attend formal education. In my years of advising and defending parents in these cases, I have not once met someone who was criminally incompetent in their parenting."
How Can Simpson Millar Help Me?
Jon Platt isn't the first parent to be fined for taking a child out of school, and unfortunately won't be the last. If you believe that you've been unfairly fined for taking a child out of school during term time, our Education Law solicitors will advise you on the best type of legal action you can take and guide you through the process, step by step.
We're here to offer clear and practical advice, ultimately helping to ensure your child receives the best education and the best start in life.
Contact us today on 0808 129 3320 to find out how we can help you.