Last year Isle of Wight magistrates said Mr Platt did not have a case to answer for non-payment of school absence fines, after taking his daughter out of school during term time for a family holiday. Mr Platt argued that section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 states that children must attend school regularly and that his daughter’s 94% attendance record fell within those guidelines.
The council subsequently applied to the High Court for clarification on the definition of ‘regular attendance’.
According to Nick Wallis – who reports for BBC1’s The One Show, Channel 5, ITV News – in his summing up the judge stated the “definition of regular is not absolute” going on to add, “It is a question of fact and degree”.
He did not accept the idea that full time education equates to 100% attendance or that any unauthorised absence is criminal.
The Judge upheld Isle of Wight magistrates decision that Jon Platt had no case to answer.
Jon Platt’s costs of £14,631 will now have to be paid by the Isle of Wight council.
Nick asked Jon Platt’s barrister if this ruling has changed the law. He replied, “Sort of”.
Bacon: Ruling “created massive uncertainty”
Cllr Jonathan Bacon, Leader of Isle of Wight Council, said:
“This case was always about seeking clarification on this matter and unfortunately today’s ruling has created massive uncertainty and cast a shadow of doubt over the policies of schools and local authorities across the country.
“The Department for Education had outlined what it considered to be ‘regular’ attendance, which was that children should attend school every day, and it is under that assumption that we acted. It is also clear that attendance and educational attainment are intertwined, however today’s ruling may be taken to imply that parents can take children out of school on holiday for up the three weeks every year. This will clearly have a detrimental effect on the education of those children, the rest of their class and their teachers.
“I’m very disappointed about the failure to give clear guidance today. We need to consider the impact of this on the Island but it is clear it will also have an affect across the country. We will be pressing the Department for Education to urgently consider creating clear legislation on this matter for the benefit of parents, schools and local authorities alike.”
Live reporting from the court
Catch up with the proceedings through Nick’s excellent updates below:
14.30 Comment from council leader added