This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Term time holidays(18 Posts)
I am about to be handed a criminal conviction for taking my daughter out of school for five days during Activities Week, a period in which the school collapses the curriculum and offers no lessons. Her attendance other than this has been 100% for the entire academic year. We refused to pay the penalty notice on the grounds that no lessons were missed but now we face prosecution, a possible criminal conviction and fine. Does anyone know of a reasonably priced solicitor in the Bristol area that could represent us?
Has anything legally changed since the Jon Platt case?
Good luck anyway.
I think that you are misinterpreting activities week as no lessons week when in fact it is a school week but just with different activities from a standard week.
If possible I would pay the fine to avoid the criminal conviction.
Just pay the fine, I follow a page on facebook which covers advice for this all the time and so many parents have ended up with a criminal record.
What is "activities week"?
By the time DD was at secondary school they didn't have anything like that. They worked until the penultimate day of term.
Just pay the fine.
DC's school doesn't have a week but has "off curriculum" days spread through the year. Assuming these are the same thing this includes
- enrichment activities e.g. learning about other cultures including food, dance and music; outdoor activities ...
- extension of curriculum activities that there isn't time to cover in normal school hours (e.g. workshop with theatre company on play they are currently studying in English Lit)
- trips (mostly curriculum based, some essential e.g. GCSE Geography field trip)
- other "useful" things that aren't strictly part of school curriculum but good for an individual's personal development e.g. first aid, careers day, DofE expedition training.
Lots of parents think they are optional at our school as well. I personally think they are great and it's a shame that so many have such a narrow view of education.
(Of course, it might be something entirely different at OP's school)
Ah ye, DD had days or even half days like this. And I agree that they shouldn't be optional.
OP, just pay the fine. It will be cheaper than hiring a solicitor. You sound like one of "those" parents.
Activities week is how the school teaches the wider curriculum, promotes self development, team building skills and resilience. You are daft if you don’t think that is a vital part of your child’s education. Just because the lessons aren’t in a classroom doesn’t mean it’s not educational.
Just pay the fine.
I worked at a secondary school until 2015 qnd or activities well was absolutely just about fun and enrichment- therewe was a residential trip in each year, London for year 7 with a theatre trip Disney land Paris for year 8, Cornwall camping in other years. Also a number of day trips and it's a knockout competitions. Hardly essential part id curriculum!
If you believe your reasoning is sound, then have it heard in court.
I would point out that in the case linked above, the appeal went against the parent, on the grounds that sending your DC to school regularly meant 'in accordance with the regulations' (not 'most of the time')
Your DC was meant to be in school. I would not be optimistic about the strength of your case.
I would pay the fine. Activities weeks are always a bit of a grey area. The idea is for them to be a broader curriculum, but some schools treat it as a bit of a jolly. Either way, child is supposed to be in school.
The fine increases and it would be better to pay the £120 now before it doubles to £240
There is no right to appeal and a solicitor will cost you more than this plus the time it involves.
The lowest A band fine starts at 50% of weekly income rising to band C fine which is150% of weekly income. Worth considering what this may mean to you.
I'm sure you can find a solicitor willing to take on your case but, as the law stands following the Platt case mentioned by other posters, you have no realistic chance of avoiding a conviction if this goes to court.
The fact that no lessons were missed is irrelevant. You took your daughter out of school without authorisation for 5 days. Unless the absence was unavoidable (e.g. she was ill), you had reasonable justification (it being activities week is not reasonable justification) or you are a member of a religious body which set those days apart for religious observance you are guilty of an offence under section 444 of the Education Act 1996.
The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of up to £2,500 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 months. I doubt that the maximum penalty would be levied in this case. But, as others have said, your best way forwards would be to pay the fine rather than waste money on getting a solicitor to pursue a lost cause.
I work in a primary school and we have a week like this every year. It still involves lessons, just in different, usually practical ways. The children learn so much during this week and it is fun and accessible to all children. To think you can choose not to send your child in and then avoid a fine is ridiculous. You’ve broken the law, pay the fine. As others have said, you won’t win.
You don't have a leg to stand on, just pay the fine. Your DD has missed lots of learning, there is education outside of the national curriculum.
Just out of interest, what did you do during the week off? It probably won't help your case, but I'd love to know what you thought would trump an activities week in school.
Please login first.