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School holidays row: Isle of Wight man loses legal fight over daughter's absence

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Looks like Jon Platt has been found guilty

 

Jon Platt’s legal battle over his daughter’s term-time holiday ends in disappointment – and bill of £140,000 to taxpayer

A father who took his child out of school for a holiday during term time, sparking a long-running legal fight, has been found guilty of failing to secure her regular attendance.

Jon Platt’s campaign had previously gone all the way from Isle of Wight magistrates court to defeat at the supreme court, at a cost of nearly £140,000 to the public purse, and his latest disappointment came in a hearing back at the same magistrates court on Friday.

“This has gone on far too long and far to much money has been spent on it by me and the taxpayer,” he told reporters after the hearing, adding his relief that it was over. Platt was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,000 costs and a £20 surcharge

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/jun/23/school-holidays-row-isle-of-wight-man-loses-legal-fight-over-daughters-absence


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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-40381825

 

http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-23/government-spent-140-000-of-taxpayers-money-on-term-time-holiday-court-battle/

 

Government spent £140,000 of taxpayer's money on term-time holiday court battle

The government paid out nearly £140,000 in taxpayer's money pursuing a court case against a father who took his daughter on holiday during term time, new figures show.

The revelation comes as the case, which was closely watched by families across the country hoping for cheaper family holidays, returns to Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court.

A Supreme Court ruling earlier this year backed the government's position against unauthorised absences, but figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request show that the government spent the equivalent of six newly-qualified teachers' salaries pursuing the case.

As of May 10, the Department for Education (DfE) bill for the court cases was £139,891.93, the figures show.

 

There was no way the government were going to let this go!


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of course, the supreme court decided that "regular" meant every possible occasion. There is no compusion to send your children to school at all, just that they are "educated"

so the original fine of £60 was actually a charge for breaching the terms of the agreement the parents and pupil signed whan accepting a place at that school. Now that the courts have re-engineered the law and the meaning of words councils can if they wish start a battle with those who home school or use other methods of educating their children . I bet we dont see a series of raids on religious schools though, just on the home groups.

Also, does it mean if I order a "regular" cofffee at a well known retail outlet I can be taken to court for not buying one the next day?

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I remember when I was at school, (and we are going back 25 to 30 years here), holidays were permitted during term time but it needed the approval by the Headteacher or senior member if teaching staff for a special form to be filled in. I think I remember that being mentioned in the parent's handbook that the school gave out when I was in Year 7.

 

 

Mind you, I suppose that the current rules prevent the envy and resentment of one pupil enjoying himself on the beach on the other side of the world while his peers have to attend normal lessons at school and so on. I am someone who has an August birthday, sand so therefore because of English term times, I never had to go to school on my birthday - in other words, I was able to do something special on that date without school getting in the way of it - I don't know how lucky I was to have my birthday at that time of year.

 

 

I remember there was a school Referendum to change the school terms and to have the school work all the way through August, and obviously hardly anyone supported it - I bet that the amount of truancy that would have gone on in August would have caused a U-turn in those plans as a result. And, that would have frustrated families who wanted to take holidays at that time of year as well.

 

 

As Eric's Brother has just said, there isn't and compulsion to send children to school, but school is the default legal way of a child being educated - unless plans are officially made, it would be regarded that as a child is absent from school, they are not being educated, and so the EWO would be brought in, visiting parents and so on. I hated school when I was a pupil, and I often wished that I was home educated, and that my parents were rich enough for me to spend two weeks on the other side of the world, forgetting the misery if being bullied and so on.


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so the original fine of £60 was actually a charge for breaching the terms of the agreement the parents and pupil signed whan accepting a place at that school

 

No it wasn't. If your child is a registered pupil at a (local authority) school the fine is for breach of the relevant Act and Regulations. Parents accepting a place at a local authority school don't sign any legally binding agreement. Some schools ask parents to sign up to various forms of home-school agreement, but these are just vague promises to support the school. They have no legal status, they aren't contracts, and no-one can be fined anything under them.

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Well the fine is for breach of the Act. That's a given. The Act, however, is vague. Regular can mean anything, and the Supreme Court were tasked to clarify what it Parliament intended it to mean in this context.

 

As you can see in Paragraph 1 of the Judgment:

 

1. This case is all about the meaning of the word “regularly” when describing the attendance of a child at school. Under section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996, if a child of compulsory school age “fails to attend regularly” at the school where he is a registered pupil, his parent is guilty of an offence. There are at least three possible meanings of “regularly” in that provision: (a) evenly spaced, as in “he attends Church regularly every Sunday”; (b) sufficiently often, as in “he attends Church regularly, almost every week”; or © in accordance with the rules, as in “he attends Church when he is required to do so”. When does a pupil fail to attend school regularly? Is it sufficient if she turns up regularly every Wednesday, or if she attends over 90% of the days when she is required to do so, or does she have to attend on every day when she is required to do so, unless she has permission to be absent or some other recognised excuse?

 

The Court quickly and unsurprisingly decided that (a) could not have been the intended meaning of regularly. The Court went into a lot of detail as to why (b) could not be the correct interpretation. I can't find a reason to disagree with the following:

 

40. Ninth, and this is the reason why the local authority have appealed and the Secretary of State has intervened in support, there are very good policy reasons why this interpretation [(b) in Para 1] simply will not do. It is not just that there is a clear statistical link between school attendance and educational achievement. It is more the disruptive effect of unauthorised absences. These disrupt the education of the individual child. Work missed has to be made up, requiring extra work by the teacher who has already covered and marked this subject matter with the other pupils. Having to make up for one pupil’s absence may also disrupt the work of other pupils. Group learning will be diminished by the absence of individual members of the group. Most of all, if one pupil can be taken out whenever it suits the parent, then so can others. Different pupils may be taken out at different times, thus increasing the disruptive effect exponentially.

 

41. Finally, given the strictness of the previous law, Parliament is unlikely to have found it acceptable that parents could take their children out of school in blatant disregard of the school rules, either without having asked for permission at all or, having asked for it, been refused. This is not an approach to rule-keeping which any educational system can be expected to find acceptable. It is a slap in the face to those obedient parents who do keep the rules, whatever the cost or inconvenience to themselves.

 

In deciding that © was the right approach the Court said two striking things:

 

43. First, there are many examples where a very minor or trivial breach of the law can lead to criminal liability. It is an offence to steal a milk bottle, to drive at 31 miles per hour where the limit is 30, or to fail to declare imported goods which are just over the permitted limit. The answer in such cases is a sensible prosecution policy. In some cases, of which this is one, this can involve the use of fixed penalty notices, which recognise that a person should not have behaved in this way but spare him a criminal conviction. If such cases are prosecuted, the court can deal with them by an absolute or conditional discharge if appropriate.

 

44. Second, this had not been thought an objection under the pre-1944 law. It was recognised that this sometimes produced harsh results, but the aim was to bring home to parents how important it was that they ensured that their children went to school. The offence in section 444(1) is an offence of strict liability, whereas the offence in section 444(1A) is not.

 

I think the Court called it right, and the Council/Govt were right to pursue this as the situation could not be left in limbo - affecting every LEA in the country.

 

 

Looking back to when it came to the school making their original decision, I don't think it helped Mr Platt, that on the week he submitted his request to take the child out of school, the former Mrs Platt had taken the child out of school for a holiday without authorisation. It also didn't help that she paid her fine. And furthermore that the school warned him (as they are required to do so) that he would be fined if he ignored their refusal to allow him to remove the child.

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I agree that a child absent in term time disrupts the class, but come to middle of June at least in primary school they don't do anything.

They just play, read books and do art and craft.

It seems that teachers are already on holiday mode, no homework, no new lessons, nothing to miss.

So if a parent takes a child on holiday 3 days before the official school closure to avoid paying double the price, he is fined to line the council's pocket.

This is legalised theft if you ask me.

Every case should be analysed individually.

For example, a child taken to a fishing trip would learn much more than a child locked in a classroom making the umpteenth rocket out of a cardboard tube.

Unfortunately this will not bring money in so a penalty is imposed.

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he is fined to line the council's pocket.

This is legalised theft if you ask me.

 

The Council don't keep the money from Penalty Notices for school absence. Councils collect it on behalf of the government and it goes to the Treasury. Councils are allowed to deduct only the cost to them of administering the Penalty Notice.

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The Council don't keep the money from Penalty Notices for school absence. Councils collect it on behalf of the government and it goes to the Treasury. Councils are allowed to deduct only the cost to them of administering the Penalty Notice.

 

Same offence (theft), different offender.

I wonder why councils are so keen to collect this money if they only get their costs back.

Maybe they inflate the costs???

Noooo, they are law abiding authorities, aren't they?

Silly me even thinking it...

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I wonder why councils are so keen to collect this money if they only get their costs back.

 

Because Councils are under a statutory duty to secure school attendance and take action to prosecute for breach of attendance rules. And because Councils do actually believe that good attendance is important.

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Because Councils are under a statutory duty to secure school attendance and take action to prosecute for breach of attendance rules. And because Councils do actually believe that good attendance is important.

This must be the funniest and most naive comment I read on CAG.

Come on!!!

They fine people taking their children to relatives' wedding abroad for a couple of days.

Happened to my friend and after the appeal he had to pay.

If my cousin is getting married abroad on a weekday (yes, they do that) and I can't leave the kids home alone, what can I do???

Councils believe that good attendance is important...

Money is important!

Anything else is just a mean to rake more money in.

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This must be the funniest and most naive comment I read on CAG.

Come on!!!

They fine people taking their children to relatives' wedding abroad for a couple of days.

Happened to my friend and after the appeal he had to pay.

If my cousin is getting married abroad on a weekday (yes, they do that) and I can't leave the kids home alone, what can I do???

Councils believe that good attendance is important...

Money is important!

Anything else is just a mean to rake more money in.

 

You've an odd sense of humour if a discussion about councils' statutory duties under the Education Acts amuses you, but each to their own.

 

Naive it isn't though, just a statement of facts. I can see you have a personal axe to grind on this king12345, but however many axes you want to grind won't change the fact that

 

(a) Councils have a statutory duty to secure school attendance, and

 

(b) they don't do it for the money because they don't keep the money. It goes to the Treasury.

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I recently let my daughter have a week off as she got offered an all expenses paid trip to New York. She is in 6th form and had to miss 2 mock A level exams, which she has subsequently taken. I did put in a request for the absence which was obviously denied but was told off the record that the trip was too much of an opportunity to miss and as long as I was prepared to risk the fine she should go. I am lucky that she is a hard worker with all her A levels predicted to be A's so I have faith in her ability and 1 week will not make any difference.

 

What gets me is I may get a fine for the unauthorised absence but they are ok with teachers having days off whenever they seem to want them therefore not being available.

 

Saying all that my wife is a primary teacher so I see it from both sides!!

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You've an odd sense of humour if a discussion about councils' statutory duties under the Education Acts amuses you, but each to their own.

 

Naive it isn't though, just a statement of facts. I can see you have a personal axe to grind on this king12345, but however many axes you want to grind won't change the fact that

 

(a) Councils have a statutory duty to secure school attendance, and

 

(b) they don't do it for the money because they don't keep the money. It goes to the Treasury.

 

Point b) The money goes to the Treasury, minus their costs...

How much does it cost to send a letter? £60?

I have no axe to grind because I've never been fined in my days and now i take my grandchildren on holiday when they're off, accepting the fact that I have to pay double.

What I don't like is the council pretending to act for the common good when in fact the just rake money in.

See all kind of enforcement and fast declining services.

But if you are a council manager, I understand your point, after all they pay your wages (and bonuses).

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But if you are a council manager, I understand your point, after all they pay your wages (and bonuses).

 

Well spotted king12345. I am indeed a very senior council manager on a £100k+ salary and I spend most of my day screwing money out of poor people. On the minus side I still haven't been able to develop your cynicism about local government but I'm working on it.

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in the 6th form there is no legal obligatuion for person to receive compusory education so that would be down to contract between pupil and school. Cant be fined for non attendance but possiblt told to leave the school for breach of contract ( I know that isnt going to happen in this case)

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