Recent High Court ruling prompts Department for Education to review legislation

Article

27 May, 2016

You may have seen coverage of the case, which involved a father who was fined £120 for taking his daughter out of school during term time.

Mr Platt had booked to take his daughter to Disney World in Florida, in April 2015 on holiday, which meant she would miss 7 days of school. However, her school on the Isle of Wight had refused to authorise her absence and subsequently fined Mr Platt a £60 fixed penalty notice as a result. Mr Platt refused to pay the fine, which was then doubled to £120 as a result.

The Isle of Wight council which maintained the school prosecuted Mr Platt, for failure to ensure his daughter 'attended school regularly' which they argued contravened Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996.

The relevant provision offered by s444(1), can be found here;: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/section/444.

Magistrates agreed with Mr Platt's assertion that he 'had no case to answer' given that his daughter attended school 'regularly'. Despite this some absence including the absence in question, Mr Platt's daughter maintained an attendance record above 90%, therefore in line with the pre-defined threshold set by the Department for Education for truancy.

The Isle of Wight Council appealed the decision to the High Court, whereby Lord Justice Lloyd Jones and Mrs Justice Thirlwall dismissed the council's challenge, ruling that there had not been an error in law with regard to the Magistrates decision.

This decision could prompt a review of the current legislation by the Department for Education, after a spokesperson commented that they 'would look to change the law' and have plans to 'strengthen statutory guidance to schools and local authorities'.

This causes significant concern for schools and local authorities who have already issued fines to parents. Would it be appropriate to review those cases given the ruling in Mr Platt's case?

If you are looking for any more information with regards to our services view our Education section. You can also contact Ruth Rule-Mullen in our Education department via email or phone on 01772 220195. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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