Jon Platt school holidays fine case: Council launch High Court appeal (updated)

The magistrate said Mr Platt had no case to answer for non-payment of school absence fines, as his daughter had over 90% attendance. The council say they will seek clarification from the High Court on a matter of law.

Judges

Isle of Wight businessman Jon Platt’s name went national when he fought the Isle of Wight council over refusal to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday.

The magistrates said Mr Platt had no case to answer because his daughter had over 90% attendance when he took her out of school for a family holiday. However, today (Friday) the Isle of Wight council confirmed they have started the formal process of appeal to the High Court.

Jon Platt hadn’t been told
Jon Platt was somewhat taken aback when OnTheWight called him for a comment, as he hadn’t heard from the council about their plans.

He said,

“I’ve got no idea what it’ll mean for me, but I intend to defend myself.

Later he said,

“It surprises me that IWC have taken 2-3 weeks to come to the decision that they’ve got a basis to appeal.”

He explained that during the case,

“Magistrates went to their chambers (along with both solicitors) to deliberate and 20 mins into deliberations they asked for the clerk of the court to assist them on a point of law.

IWC tax payers money
He finished by saying,

“It probably is in everyone’s interest for this matter to be clarified beyond any doubt.

“It’s just a shame that Isle of Wight council will be dropping £15-20,000 of taxpayers money to take this to the High Court.”

Case law
Council leader and Executive member for children’s services, Councillor Jonathan Bacon, said,

“The recent media attention given to this case shows that there is interest, concern and, above all, uncertainty as to what constitutes ‘regular attendance’ for the purposes of the legislation in question. This is not a question that can be resolved by any local authority.

“The decision made by the magistrates was made on a point of law. The Isle of Wight Council has received clear advice that the magistrates may have failed to interpret and apply the law correctly in making their decision. Where the law created by Parliament is uncertain, the Appeal Courts have the ability to lay down a binding ruling as to the correct interpretation of the law.

“The Isle of Wight Council is of the view that, in light of the advice given, the importance of the issue and the need to obtain clarity, it would be appropriate to appeal the magistrates’ decision in this case in order to obtain a clear binding ruling as to what the law is on this issue. This will benefit parents and local authorities both on the Island and across the country, and may also inspire Parliament to look again at the legislation, which many feel they ought to.”

The council go on to say they will not be commenting further in relation to this case until the appeal has been determined, but in the meantime, “will continue to implement the government’s current statutory guidance around attendance”.

Jon has put together a brief outline of the argument used in his defence for not paying the school absence fines.

Article edit
Further comments added from Jon Platt.

Image: Spunter under CC BY 2.0

Friday, 30th October, 2015 4:56pm

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ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2dDc

Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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45 Comments on "Jon Platt school holidays fine case: Council launch High Court appeal (updated)"

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The Sciolist

And they claim not to have any money. Utter tosh! Remember this next time they start whining.

Philip Hawkins

Good God!

They say there’s a first time for everything, but I actually agree with Sciolist on this.

jon choo

But it is not about how much it is going to cost to make an appeal, it is about how they are going to lose if they are unable to screw fines out of parents who wish to spend quality family time together with their children, creating a stable family unit.

jon choo

The above should read

But it is not about how much it is going to cost to make an appeal, it is about how much money they are going to lose if they are unable to screw fines out of parents who wish to spend quality family time together with their children, creating a stable family unit.

I missed out ‘much money’.

lardi
Rule are rules Shall I appeal to the court on a fine for parking on a double yellow line because for 90% of the time I park correctly. He knew the rules when his child started at the school. I hope the court enforce this fine it but give the schools discretion on a case by case basis.No wonder teachers have problems with pupils when even the… Read more »
leonard
The rules say that pupils must regularly attend school. The court has said that 90% is regular attendance. Most schools say that 95% is regular attendance. Clearly, the word “regular” needs defining clearly by the courts so that schools and parents know exactly how these rules should be applied, and schools can exercise the discretion that they already have in a sensible way. This parent is not… Read more »
Ratbag

Nothing in the rules to say that a child must attend school.

The rules say that a child must attend school regularly IF they are registered at a school.

Which is why some parents have resorted to de-registering prior to the holiday and re-applying once they return.

leonard

The law also states that you must give your child a suitable education, whether that be home education or school education.

By de-registering their child, parents are not complying with the part of the law that states they must give their child a suitable education. They are breaking the law whilst they are on holiday.

jon choo

I like that de-registering your children.

leonard, de-registering ‘YOUR’ children does not mean they do not comply with the law, they are still giving ‘THEIR’ a SUITABLE education, jesus it seems almost as some people think children belong to the state.

leonard
“de-registering ‘YOUR’ children does not mean they do not comply with the law, they are still giving ‘THEIR’ a SUITABLE education,” It DOES mean that parents are not complying with the law, specifically the Education Act. Parents are NOT giving their children a suitable education unless they are in school or home educated, or some other provision is being made. If a parent opts to home educate,… Read more »
Colin

@ jon choo

Interestingly enough there are also some people who think that the state should fund their children and lifestyle too, so perhaps you’re not as wrong as I first thought.

Dalek

Challenging authority is necessary from time to time, and should be encouraged when done legally. Without challenges, those who seek to rule us quickly become dictators, expecting us to meekly accept their every ruling.

queenie

Parking on double yellow lines is breaking the law…taking your child on holiday is not illegal.

tiki

As Victor Meldrew would say ‘I don’t believe it’. I thought the council was broke. That sort of money would keep a loo open… beggars belief.

Dalek

So, to collect a few hundred pounds fine, they’re going to spend £20,000? Seriously, Councillor Bacon needs to check his priorities again, and if he doesn’t see the stupidity of this, then he should resign.

leonard
No – the council is spending an amount as yet unknown to clarify where they stand in law. This will allow the council to make clear policy which schools can follow. In turn, this will prevent the council acting illegally, and prevent further legal challenges which could cost the taxpayer more. The only person who has said £15-£20,000 is Mr Platt, who acknowledges himself that “It probably… Read more »
Dalek

It would still be cheaper for them to swallow the existing ruling and let another council go to the high court when it happens again; which it will. It smacks of being a sore loser.

leonard
Whilst waiting for another council to go to the high court, there could be any number of parents fined for non-attendance. If the high court then found in parents favour, every single one of these parents would have a case, and the council would be forced to pay compensation, which would cost a lot more. The council is making sure they are obeying the law by making… Read more »
Ratbag

Should make an interesting FOI request…

Diogenese's Barrel

Isn’t Cllr. Bacon a lawyer?

Does he need to declare an interest?

leonard

Why?

Cllr Bacon does not need to declare an interest unless he is fined for his own children not attending.

Being a lawyer simply means he knows what the council could be facing if they do not get this clarified now.

lardi

Have a look at the educational attainment tables for the island or for the country compered with the rest of the world and decide whether any kid can afford to take time out from a busy teaching syllabus – at any time.

soupy

Attainment in primary schools on the island is high. Plus government’s own statistics, which they choose to ignore, show the impact on children who are absent due to missing school for the occasional holiday is NOT significant. Absence due to truancy and sickness have the most impact.

dragonfly
The Learning Outside the Classroom agenda started as a government initiative that recognizes that a great deal of essential learning takes place away from the classroom. There is much evidence to suggest that keeping children indoors with a league table obsessed agenda is not good for children’s learning and development. I took my own children out of school for a week each year to extend the half… Read more »
dragonfly

Can someone just confirm – if the IWC take this to the High Court and lose, will they then be responsible for paying back all the fines that have already been paid since this ruling came in?

BRIAN
One aspect that has been overlooked by the government when implementing this law is the age of the child. In adopting this “one size fits all” policy, it fails to acknowledge the depth of study being undertaken. For example, an infant pupil missing a week isn’t going to make a significant impact on total learning for the year. On the other hand, GCSE and A level study… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Missing classes affects pupils of all ages. Whilst primary children may not be missing important examination subjects, the subject matter and skills learned are no less important and can be just as essential and linear and cumulative. Saying this, I don’t support this Conservative government policy to fine parents and subsequently take them to court for going on a family holiday or even a funeral. Children and… Read more »
Dalek

Blimey! Vix, for once I agree with you. Think I need to lie down now.

The Sciolist

I too concur, will also go rest in a darkened room,

dragonfly
Adding to that, another reason why it doesn’t work is that whether a child is not attending school because the parents can’t be bothered to get him there, they are attending a family celebration (a sibling’s graduation for example) or have the opportunity to attend the Special Olympics, go on an African safari, a theatrical performance in the West End or the last night at the proms… Read more »
Rumpole

I can think of no finer way of the Council spending its limited funds than keeping a few lawyers off the breadline. You lot should have some sympathy for these poor fellows. Do you not know the extortionate price of even the cooking claret in Pomeroy’s Wine Bar these days?

neilpalmer400
Speaking as an Englishman abroad the idea of fining parents for taking children on a family vacation would go over like a lead balloon here in Canada. As for the petty little head tyrants who refuse permission for parents to take a child out of school to attend something like a family funeral, they should be vilified as the nanny state little dictators they are, and should… Read more »
Ali Hayden.
Is it not up to the Head Teacher to either give or decline permission for a child to be taken out of school for a family holiday or special event? Presumably they are the ones who can check the child’s academic performance + attendance record. The teachers + staff are best placed to know how well your child is doing at school. In a week of absence… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
The reason why this recent government quest to fine parents for taking holidays has cause so much uproar is because power has been taken away from the headteacher. Headteachers are not to exercise discretion in authorising holiday anymore. They have strict instructions to raise attendance and also told they must inform authorities of any unauthorised absence. Educational Welfare scrutinise the figures. They set high attendance targets for… Read more »
Jay

Are you sure Vix?

Northwood Primary openly publicise that they do not fine parents.

Newsletter of 9th October (of their website) discusses… also notes attendance concerns!!!

Vix Lowthion

Our primary schools don’t fine parents – Educational Welfare and the Council do.

Jay
Thanks Vix, Noted. The various newsletters received talk about the Governors decision, and the flagging of information to the Education Welfare System. Recent one said “Ultimately, we are the only school left on the Island who do not issue Fixed Penalty notices through the education welfare team and we would like to keep it that way. However, if we cannot work together on the sickness absence the… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Ah – that’s a positive approach. But I guess can only be continued if all other attendance is good enough to allow the school to hit their target. If they don’t, and too many children are off, then the school figures would be scrutinised and they would have no other option than to implement the government fining policy. Schools and parents should be trusted to apply the… Read more »
Lord Bermondsey

If it wasn’t an island businessman but a council house chav that had done this, would the result be the same?

I very much doubt it.

School term time is for schooling.

Jonty stewart
Irrespective of councillor Bacon’s legal standing, he has evidently taken it upon himself to gain clarification on this point of law, but why does he think it is acceptable for it to be paid for by the people of the Isle of Wight? This is surely a case for the department of education… If cllr Bacon really wants his day in court, fine, but get the holders… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
‘Chav’?! No – ordinary people with very limited pockets wouldn’t have had this outcome as they wouldn’t have had the £1000 available to challenge the fine. Yes school term is for schooling. Absolutely. And schools shouldn’t be there to fine parents for having children who regularly attend school with over 90% attendance. This is the important point of law which needs clarification. But our council money shouldn’t… Read more »
Nitonia
But is 90% really adequate? That equates to missing one day every fortnight. 95% seems a more accepted number. This is really a bit of a mess. On the one hand people are saying they should be able to take their kids out of school if their attendance and attainment are good. Do the same people agree that they should not if their child has low attainment… Read more »
soupy
Most people would be happy for things to go back to how they were when head teachers had discretion and were able to look at individual cases. I’ve not heard of anyone calling for a free for all. As a point of law the definition of regular attendance needs clarifying. If it is decided that children with over 90% attendance are technically at school regularly only cases… Read more »
Nitonia
For the system to return to how it was would require an agreement between the HT and parents. Parents would need to understand that if the HT refused to approve absence then this would be for good sound educational reasons and the parents should respect this. Somehow I think that a return to the old system would reduce fines but would not have any positive impact on… Read more »
JOHN NOADES
They are in breech of the prevention of harassment act and can be charged with collective harassment. If someone prevents you doing what your legally entitled to it can be perceived as harassment, if more than one person is involved it can be classed as collective harassment. Both individuals and organisations can be made civilly liable for unlimited civil damages. It is my understanding that the crown… Read more »