Supreme Court rules against term-time holidays

A father who was fined after taking his daughter out of school for a trip has lost a landmark court case today, as judges unanimously decided to uphold the ban on term-time holidays.

The judges ruled that regular attendance had to be in keeping with rules of the school, as “no child should be taken out of school without good reason”.

The High Court and Isle of Wight magistrate’s court both initially ruled in favour of the parent who had argued that because his daughter still had a 90.3% attendance record, even when she returned from their 7-day holiday, she still fell within the boundaries of “regular attendance”.

However, delivering the judgement today, the Deputy President of the Supreme Court Lady Hale said:

Unauthorised absences have a disruptive effect, not only on the education of the individual child but also on the work of other pupils.

If one pupil can be taken out whenever it suits the parent, then so can others. … Any educational system expects people to keep the rules. Not to do so is unfair to those obedient parents who do keep the rules, whatever the costs or inconvenience to themselves.

Here is reaction from some of the councils  across the region:

Middlesbrough Council: “We are pleased that the judgement from the Supreme Court reinforces the importance we place on ensuring pupils’ education is not disrupted by taking holidays in term time.  

“Our legal team are now looking at the judgement and we will provide some further guidance to schools and parents in the next few days.” (Spokesperson)

Durham County Council: “We are pleased that the Supreme Court has today supported local authorities and schools in addressing low level irregular attendance offences.

“We issue Fixed Penalty Notices as an alternative to a prosecution for the offence of failing to ensure a child’s regular attendance at school during the relevant offence period.

“Our policy is firmly in line with government guidance and we consider it to be fair.”

“In reaching their judgement, the Supreme Court highlighted that it is not only the clear statistical link between school attendance and educational achievement that is important, they also recognised the disruptive effect of unauthorised absences on the education of the individual child, as well as the potential to effect other pupils.” (Caroline O’Neill, Head of Education, Children and Young People’s Services)

Northumberland County Council: “In Northumberland we issue guidance and a code of conduct to schools, which is in line with national pupil registration regulations. We have continued to issue penalty notices, where appropriate. Now that the Supreme Court judgment is known we will await the full judgment and subsequent recommendations from the Department for Education before we agree any future action.”  (Spokesperson)

Newcastle City Council: “During the past half term Newcastle City Council has been consulting with schools and other key partners on proposed changes to our Code of Conduct for Fixed Penalty Notices. Today’s announcement will enable us to take account of the case outcome in this”. (Spokesperson)




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