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High Court judgment

On 13 May 2016, the High Court ruled in favour of Jon Platt, a father from the Isle of Wight who had refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on holiday during term time. Following a ruling by magistrates, the Isle of Wight Council had taken the issue of whether a seven day absence from school amounted to a breach of the requirement for regular school attendance to the High Court.[1]

The Isle of Wight Council has been granted permission to appeal the decision to Supreme Court.[2]

The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, has since described the High Court judgment as “a significant threat to one of the Government’s most important achievements in education over the last six years, improving school attendance.”[3]

What is the existing position?

Parents cannot authorise absence; only schools can do this. Head teachers have discretion to grant leave during school term time, but this is not an automatic entitlement.  The law governing such leave of absences was tightened up from September 2013. 


The restrictions on term-time holidays have proved controversial. A petition arguing for the introduction of an allowance for up to two weeks term time leave from school for holidays was submitted to Parliament in summer 2015, and received over 120,000 signatures.  A May 2016 petition on the same subject has received over 190,000 signatures.

The earlier petition received a Parliamentary debate, which took place in Westminster Hall on 26 October 2015.  The Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, stated that the Government would not be relaxing the rules.

The impact of absence: 2016 report

In March 2016, the Department for Education published statistics on Absence and attainment at key stages 2 and 4: 2013 to 2014, which included the Department’s conclusion that all absence had an adverse impact on attainment.

[1]     BBC News, Term-time holiday father wins at High Court, 13 May 2016.

[2]     TES, Council gets green light for Supreme Court challenge over term time holidays, 30 June 2016

[3]     PQ 40958, 29 June 2016

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