Jon Platt goes national with landmark Isle of Wight school fine triumph

Nettlestone resident Jon Platt, who took his daughter out of school for six days for a family holiday, was told he had no case to answer by Magistrates as she had an almost 94% attendance record. It’s a landmark ruling for parents across the country.

Courtroom gavel

Sandown businessman, Jon Platt, has not only made national news with a landmark court case over school absence fines, but he’s now being hailed as a national hero by parents across the country.

Last Monday, Jon Platt was told by Magistrates that he had no case to answer after being taken to court by the Isle of Wight council for non-payment of a £60 fine.

Fought the fine on principle
The fine was issued after Jon took his six year old daughter out of school for six days to be part of a 17-strong family holiday in Florida last April.

The school’s headteacher had refused to give authorised absence and rather than pay the mandatory fine of £60 (which rose to £120 on non-payment), Jon chose, on principle, to spend over £1,000 to fight the claim in court.

No laws broken
Jon’s lawyer had argued that the law requires parents to ensure their children attend school “regularly” and as Mr Platt’s daughter had a nearly 94% attendance rate, she easily met the criteria.

Following the court’s decision Jon said,

“To all those parents thinking about taking their kids on holiday I say this – they are your kids. Their education is very, very important, but it does not trump everything else and Parliament did not intend to nor did it, make it a criminal offence to take your kids on holiday in term time.

“If your kids are doing well in school and their attendance is at or above 90%, you have nothing to fear from section 444 of the Education Act 1996.”

At the time of the ruling, Jon said the council’s lawyers had indicated they would take the case to the High Court. As the council is cash strapped, Jon criticised this decision and the council have since said they are “reviewing the court’s decision”.

Media attention
In the last week Jon has appeared on BBC South Today, Sky News, BBC Breakfast and tonight will be on your screens for Meridian Tonight (6pm) and tomorrow on This Morning with Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.

We’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from Jon Platt.

Image: joegratz under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 19th October, 2015 3:14pm

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Filed under: Education, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Print, Radio, Top story, TV, Youth

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23 Comments on "Jon Platt goes national with landmark Isle of Wight school fine triumph"

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Dalek
This seems like a common-sense outcome for once. Although well past the age where I would have children at school, I have been following this. It seems to me that the legislation was put in place to enable schools to deal with those children who regularly miss school and parents who would not do anything about it. However, it was applied as a blanket rule without taking… Read more »
Colin
Since when did anything less than 100% become acceptable? Here we are with the Island schools already in the worst state they have ever been. When it comes to the exams and the children can’t answer questions because they have missed vital pieces of their courses; whose fault will that be? Have the teachers nothing better to do than make sure every pupil whose parents decide it’s… Read more »
Mother

Are you serious? We’re talking about a 6 year old here, not someone missing vital GCSE lessons.

94% attendance is very good for a child that age when you factor in the many colds, sickness bugs etc that young children pick up at school.

Jon Platt
Sorry Colin for the delay in responding to your comment. If attendance is so intrinsicly linked to performance then tell me why kids who are absent (even up to 19 days a year) due to family holidays ACTUALLY PERFORM BETTER than their fellow pupils with better attendance rates? (Dept of Ed figures not mine) If it is, as you suggest, critical that attendance is 100%, tell me… Read more »
garageelfiniow
Well done Jon. As somebody who very rarely has the opportunity to take holiday (one week in the last 2 1/2 years) with my family due to pressures of work I want to be the one to decide when I go away. I fully understand the need for the to be educated but our business also has needs in terms of going away at its quietest time… Read more »
jon choo

Congratulations to Jon Platt on his ‘win’ against a fine. Common sense at last wins.
Question – How did Jon get charged a ‘mandatory’ fine, when he had not committed an offence according to the LAW.
Does that mean that all the Mothers and Fathers that have had their children regularly attend school but paid a fine for taking THEIR children on holiday, get a refund.

jon choo

how did i get marked down for congratulating jon and asking a couple of questions, ………..some people

bigj

No mention of the dire state of recent exam results on the Island.
This sets a very bad precedent.

jon choo

“This sets a very bad precedent.”
No it does not, his children had an attendance rate of 94%, the exam results are nothing to do with taking your children on holiday for two weeks, You surely do not believe going on holiday affects the exam results do you, truancy maybe but not if you have 94% attendance.

jon choo

Jon was on Meridian Tonight and they attempted to claim he had found a loophole etc basically a hit piece, Jon stood his ground admirably saying all he had done was follow the law and had already booked his next holiday with his children. Good on him and good luck.

John
Also as a matter of principle, would parents spend a similar sum (£1000) on private tuition upon their return, so that the remainder of attending students in their child’s class do not have their learning diluted by the teaching staff being diverted to facilitate the holidaymaker’s catch-up? Other though-provoking concepts: – If 94% attendance is acceptable, is 94% of the minimum wage acceptable in later life? –… Read more »
jon choo
John perhaps you should be campaigning to cancel all holidays by your way of thinking there is no hope of attaining any standard, maybe you could also start a campaign to have them stay in school from 7am to 8pm, or better still when you have children you give them to the state etc etc. THEY ARE CHILDREN LET THEM HAVE A CHILDHOOD, you remember childhood don’t… Read more »
John

A better campaign may be to get the council (and academies) to set term dates mildly offset to the typical ones, so that more children (potentially with parents working in the tourist industry) could also have a family holiday, and leave more disposable income to spend on the Island boosting our economy.

Richard

What needs to happen is for the government to clamp down on greedy holiday companies..

Jon Platt
Sitting in a hotel in london….just ordered dinner at 10pm. Exhausted after a long day of terrifying live TV interviews. Just had my attention drawn to this on the wight story. How flattered am I!! And very flattered by all the nice comments. Im told this issue that I feel so strongly about is neing debated in Parliament on Monday next week. The return of discretion for… Read more »
Vix Lowthion

Good luck Jon! You have my support.

Kevin Bush
Hi Jon, congratulations on standing your ground. I’m going through the same argument with my son’s school in Leicestershire. We took two children out for a week, one school granted leave with no problems, the other issued a fine for section 444 as with yours. I’m currently checking attendance. This wasn’t about cheaper holidays, but mum works on ambulance crew and they dictate holidays. I’m growing a… Read more »
Sco

The rationale behind many laws get lot in the mist of time as they become the norm. It’s good that this magistrate went back to the original wording of the law and extrapolated some logical common sense from it.

Heather
The rationale behind many laws gets lost in the mist of time as they become the norm. It’s good that this magistrate went back to the original wording and extrapolated some logical common sense from it. As a child, I was taken out of school for a two week family holiday, every September until secondary school. It may well have put me behind the class, but it… Read more »
Steven C

I just googled to find out what the educational requirements were for a magistrate. Guess what?

Also community volunteers…

Concerned by double standards
I understand his comments. But may I ask what the rule is for staff taking paid holiday in term time? I ask as I know of an island chool where the head has done just that. Whilst fining parents, they take a week off, ‘as they work during the holidays’ Show me a single teacher that does not work in the holidays or at weekends… The rest… Read more »
Mandy

Behind you 100%. A few negative comments on here which I don’t agree with yes children go to school for a education but surely whilst visiting abroad,this is only enhancing there education, local language/currency/maths landmarks/history geography locals and environment =social studies and by taking our children to foreign countries they are learning about these countries and there traditions first hand and not from a text book.

Stewart Thomas
You’re a solid gold hero Jon for taking this on as you have. It’s always been plainly obvious to me how much our own children are enriched by family holidays. I would swear at times they came home almost visibly taller! I understand your daughter learnt to swim on this particular holiday – well if that isn’t ‘life achievement unlocked’ I don’t know what is. Not to… Read more »