Greener BeeGreen HolidaysCouncils relax rules on children being out of school
  • Investigation finds councils have changed their stance on term time breaks 
  • Father Jon Platt raised the issue of taking children out of school for holidays
  • He overturned his fine in the High Court after arguing that his children had otherwise excellent attendance 

Eleanor Harding, Education Correspondent For The Daily Mail

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A BBC investigation has found the 35 councils have changed their stance on term time fines since the case of Isle of Wight father Jon Platt. 

He overturned his fine in the High Court after arguing that his children had otherwise excellent attendance.

Of 108 councils where data was available, 35 have altered their stance on the fines – with 28 no longer issuing them altogether. A further five councils are currently reviewing the policy.

For primary age children, North Yorkshire gets the best deal – with 51 per cent of holidays given the green light there (file photo of primary school children above)

For primary age children, North Yorkshire gets the best deal – with 51 per cent of holidays given the green light there (file photo of primary school children above)

The Torbay area of Dveon is  the best place to live if you want to take secondary school children away during the term, with 51 per cent of all term time holidays given official approval

The Torbay area of Dveon is  the best place to live if you want to take secondary school children away during the term, with 51 per cent of all term time holidays given official approval

Term-time holiday campaigner David Hedley said: ‘There is very little clarity on what is allowed.

‘So many people struggle to get time off during the school holidays – especially those who work shift work in public services.

‘It’s not fair to continue to impose these very strict rules, the circumstances of the family should be taken into account.

‘Families across the country are being penalised and it is ridiculous.’

The figures for 2014-15 reveal the local authorities where the largest percentage of holidays were approved also include Shropshire and Herefordshire for both secondary and primary age children.

Meanwhile, only a small percentage of holidays were approved for older children in Bracknell Forest, Leicester and Barnsley or for younger children in Luton, Rochdale and Bexley, London.

Going on holiday outside of peak season can knock thousands off the price for a family, as travel companies force people to pay a premium during the school break.

However, taking children on holiday during the term time has been banned since 2013 following new guidelines introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove.

It has meant flouting parents have been slapped with fines of £60 per child, and many have been taken to court when they have refused to pay.

The 2014-15 statistics appear to show many head teachers have been ignoring the rules and allowing parents to take their children away anyway.

And this trend sped up in May 2016, when Isle of Wight father Jon Platt overturned his fine in the High Court, arguing that taking children away was legal as long as their overall attendance was excellent across the year.

Councils and head teachers are now reluctant to enforce the ban because they know magistrates’ courts will be unable to uphold the fines following the landmark case.

The 2014-15 statistics from school registers also showed a record number of parents taking their children out of classes for holidays without approval of the head teacher.

A total of 3.2million school days were lost – compared with just 2.6million two years previously.

Isle of Wight father Jon Platt overturned his fine in the High Court, arguing that taking children away was legal as long as their overall attendance was excellent

Isle of Wight father Jon Platt overturned his fine in the High Court, arguing that taking children away was legal as long as their overall attendance was excellent

Over the same time period the number of days of authorised holiday had fallen from 4.1million to just under 900,000.

The Department for Education is supporting an appeal by Mr Platt’s council against the High Court’s decision, and the case will go before the Supreme Court later this year.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘Children should not be taken out of school without good reason.

‘The evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their future, vindicating our strong stance on attendance.

‘Local authorities and schools are taking tough action on addressing absence, as has been seen in the downward trend in overall absence figures in recent years.’

A spokesman for Redbridge Council said: ‘We are very proud of our high performing schools and students. Our most recent GCSE results were excellent.

‘One of the reasons our students are able to achieve such results is because they attend school regularly and we discourage holidays during term time so that that are taken only when absolutely necessary.’

Darren Paffey, cabinet member for education at Southampton Council, said: ‘We want all children in Southampton to get a good education and the first step to achieving this is ensuring excellent school attendance.

‘We support headteachers’ efforts to enforce attendance rules, and do so in a way that is firm but fair.’ 

Torbay in Devon is the best place to live if you want to take secondary school children away during the term, with 51 per cent of all term time holidays given official approval.

For primary age children, North Yorkshire gets the best deal – with 51 per cent of holidays given the green light there.

        


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