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Supreme Court rules against parent on term time holidays

(27 Posts)
RustyBear Thu 06-Apr-17 10:18:32

prh47bridge Thu 06-Apr-17 10:57:01

I am not surprised. It seemed clear from the relevant legislation that parliament intended "regularly" in section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 to mean "in accordance with the rules" and not as the lower courts interpreted it. The Supreme Court also noted that the interpretation of the lower courts meant that parents would have no idea whether or not they were committing an offence when taking their child out of school for a day, contrary to the normal practice of the courts that laws imposing criminal liability must be construed strictly to avoid any doubt.

I note also that the Supreme Court refers to the 7 day holiday taken by the father as missing 14 attendances. The 5 day holiday taken by the mother two months previously (for which she did pay the fine) is described as missing 10 attendances. They use a similar approach elsewhere in the judgement, at times referring to each half day missed as an absence. This confirms that each half day missed is a separate absence and parents can be fined accordingly, although I don't know of any LA that actually does so. Most seem to impose a single £60 fine per parent per period of absence.

bojorojo Thu 06-Apr-17 15:48:26

I believe school attendance registers are taken for the morning and afternoon so perhaps this is why they refer to half days? At least that is clear and is aligned with school registers. Schools are able to use whole days for fines. I think this decision makes sense. This child was missing quite a lot of school and now we have clarification of the law.

lljkk Thu 06-Apr-17 17:02:30

Prime Minister Theresa May agreed it was for schools to decide on absences.
"It's right that the individual head teacher has that flexibility to make that decision," she said.


not for the Edu. Authority? For the HT to decide??

prh47bridge Fri 07-Apr-17 00:35:11

It is indeed for the HT to decide whether or not to authorise a particular holiday. Any fine must be imposed in line with the LA's code of conduct. This will set minimum conditions that must be met before a fine can be imposed (e.g. minimum level of absence that attracts a fine). The HT cannot impose a fine if those conditions are not met but can choose not to impose a fine even if the conditions are met.

So Theresa May is absolutely right. Although some HTs claim they don't have any discretion, the reality is that they do. It is their decision, not the LA's.

peteneras Fri 07-Apr-17 06:32:04

It’s a sensible decision and a correct one.

If every other pupil were to take a week off during term time for holidays [holidays, for pete’s sake] then there wouldn’t be much of a school left.

Of course, head teachers can authorise an absence from school only on exceptional circumstances e.g. to attend a funeral of a close relative or for a home emergency.

Ta1kinPeace Fri 07-Apr-17 16:45:29

If you want the State to educate your child you have to accept the rules.

It is as simple as that.

Teachers do not get term time holidays.
Nor should children.

If you do not want to accept those terms, home educate
as private schools would not tolerate such things either

GreenGinger2 Fri 07-Apr-17 18:20:53

The private schools my friends dc go to do. They don't abuse it though in exactly the same way the maj didn't abuse it in the state sector.

Fining doesn't stop parents flouting these rules,the wealthier parents just pay the fines thus making for a very unfair and pointless system.

Meanwhile little Johnny who has low attendance just keeps on truanting. Fining parents of good attenders doesn't stop truanting. Utterly pointless.

peteneras Fri 07-Apr-17 19:22:24

Not that simple . . .

Parents do go to jail for their child(ren)'s truancy.

GreenGinger2 Fri 07-Apr-17 19:38:25

If it's repeated,they have poor attendance and they don't pay the fine. 10 days with good attendance
and fines paid would not end in jail.

GreenGinger2 Fri 07-Apr-17 19:44:14

So the wealthier get to go to Florida at optimum time, attend family weddings, ski away from the crowds.... but not poorer families.

abbsisspartacus Fri 07-Apr-17 19:54:07

I'm poor no foreign holidays here but to be fair I didn't either and we could have afforded it but we were too busy seeing our own country same as I do with my kids despite having no car and no job we are off to Blackpool for a couple of days we will spend time on the tram and the beach play on the 2p machines and use our pass to go to the sea Life centre including travel and hotel costs less than £200 in the Easter holiday

I save hard to take my kids places overseas can wait we haven't seen the half of UK yet grin

lljkk Fri 07-Apr-17 20:29:39

Foreign hols Who Cares? Friend took her 7 kids to Butlins in term time for a wk b/c it was cheap & how else can anyone afford to take 7 kids on hols?

prh47bridge Sat 08-Apr-17 00:35:28

Fining doesn't stop parents flouting these rules, the wealthier parents just pay the fines thus making for a very unfair and pointless system

There has been a significant drop in both absenteeism generally and persistent absenteeism since the fines were introduced, so the fines are having an effect. I don't know what alternative system you would propose for dealing with absenteeism.

GreenGinger2 Sat 08-Apr-17 07:20:45

A drop isn't the problem dealt with. Persistant absentees are still truanting. And actually why should those with good attendance be penalised for those with poor particularly when many still continue to have a poor record?

Re "general" absenteeism the wealthy just stump up the fines and continue to do what many poorer families used to do. In my dc's schools( primary and secondary) the fines have made little difference- the wealthier families are still taking their kids out and just paying the fines.

It's not my job to decide what to do,I would never have used a sledgehammer to crack a nut in this way. Surely though if it is so important those who just pay the fines should be taken to court regardless of payment...... Wealth shouldn't enable some to flout the rules.

allegretto Sat 08-Apr-17 07:27:31

I think it creates bad feeling between parents and schools when there should be collaboration. I took ds out for a week to ski this year but we live abroad and dont have half terms - he couldn't ski in the summer holidays!

GreenGinger2 Sat 08-Apr-17 07:39:42

At my dc's primary last year some kids were being taken out to all sorts of highly desirable places they bragged about at school before going to. We then had to tell our DC we couldn't afford to take them to the same places because it's too expensive in the holidays and they're not supposed to have time off school.Cue bellyaching as to unfairness and boring parents.

LEAs differ,Scotland,Ireland and Wales don't fine. Private pupils aren't fined.

Either make ever single LEA in the whole of GB make every single family keep to the same rules regardless of wealth or don't bother.

GreenGinger2 Sat 08-Apr-17 07:48:05

In the most leniant areas 50% of holidays are approved.

Aside to the above on a population level the amount spent on fines isn't small. Some parents are still going on holiday.They just pay for the privilege.

bojorojo Sat 08-Apr-17 12:47:29

The money saved on the holiday more than pays for the fines though, doesn't it? So it is nothing to do with wealth, other than who can afford a holiday at all of course. If you cannot, then you do not gain, or lose, anything.

Anon1234567890 Sat 08-Apr-17 13:56:07

Any one know what happens to the money when a fine is paid. Does it go to the school?

prh47bridge Sat 08-Apr-17 14:42:03

It goes to the LA. What they do with it is up to them but it is generally spent on enforcing school attendance.

NameChanger22 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:18:28

There are a lot of kids on Saturday Night Takeaway in Florida this week. I'm wondering if all those parents have paid their fines?

GreenGinger2 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:24:24

Not always if grandparents pay,or it's a family wedding......

Also surely if the rule is nobody can take their kids out nobody should.

Just because some can afford to go skiing in January and pay the fines it doesn't mean they should be able to ignore the rules and do just that.It's supposed to be a heinous crime that puts the education of children in jeopardy.

Snap8TheCat Sat 08-Apr-17 19:32:58

It's school holidays ATM?

Thegirlinthefireplace Sat 08-Apr-17 19:39:28

Namecganger, school holidays started last Friday (31st) in lots of places.

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