The long awaited term-time holiday appeal decision in Isle of Wight -v- Platt has been handed down by the Supreme Court, overturning the previous decision of the High Court.
The judgment of the Supreme Court has given meaning to the word ‘regularly’ under s.444(1) Education Act 1996 when considering pupil attendance. Lady Hale in delivering the judgment of the Court noted that there were three possible meanings that could be attributed to ‘regularly’, (1) evenly spaced (2) sufficiently often; or (3) in accordance with the rules.
The Supreme Court justices determined that ‘regularly’ in this context means ‘in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school’.
The decision gives welcomed clarification on the issue as to when fines for unauthorised absences can be legitimately issued to parents who take their children out of school without the express authorisation of the headteacher. There need be no reference to the level of attendance over the academic year, one unauthorised absence will be sufficient for the criminal offence under s.444(1) to have been committed.
Parents who do continue to take children out of school for unauthorised term-time holidays will be liable for fines and/or prosecutions should they fail to pay.