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Father loses term-time holiday case

Jon Platt, who took his daughter to Disneyworld during term-time

Supreme Court rules Jon Platt was right to be fined for taking his daughter out of school on holiday in 2015

A father who took his daughter out of school during term time on a trip to Disneyworld has lost a landmark Supreme Court battle.

Jon Platt said he was “not at all surprised” at the Supreme Court decision, which came after he was refused permission by his daughter’s headteacher to take her on the trip to Florida in 2015.

He was prosecuted by the Isle of Wight Council after refusing to pay an initial £60 fine.

But Mr Platt later appealed and the case reached the highest court in the land.

The government welcomed the ruling, saying “no child should be taken out of school without good reason”.

The Isle of Wight council had argued a child’s unauthorised absence from school “for even a single day, or even half a day” can amount to a criminal offence.

A Department for Education spokeswoman added: “As before, head teachers have the ability to decide when exceptional circumstances allow for a child to be absent but today’s ruling removes the uncertainty for schools and local authorities that was created by the previous judgment.

“The evidence shows every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil’s chances of achieving good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances.”

Ministers have argued that children must be in school every day, and that every extra day of school a child misses can affect their GCSE results.

The case was closely watched by parents, many of whom say holidays outside of term-time have become unaffordable.

There was a major crackdown on absence in the autumn of 2013, including term-time holidays.

Under new rules headteachers could only grant leave in “exceptional circumstances”. Previously, school leaders were able to approve leave of up to 10 days for “special circumstances”.

The fines for any unauthorised absence were also increased that year, with parents now facing a £60 penalty that could rise to £120 if it is not paid within three weeks.

Anyone, like Mr Platt, who fails or refuses to pay within 28 days faces prosecution.