by Telegraph Reporters from The Telegraph, June 23, 2017
Parents across England who take their children out of school without permission will face a fine and can be prosecuted, even if their child has a high general attendance.
This is due to rules introduced by the Department of Education in 2013, which removed any provision for family holidays. This means that parents may only take their child away from school under “exceptional circumstances”, such as a family-member’s funeral.
According to the Education Act 1966, the only statutory exemptions that override a headteacher’s discretion are sickness, the failure to provide transport to children registered to receive it to and from school, and religious observance reasons.
How big will the fine be?
Parents who break the rules can be fined £60 by their local council, which rises to £120 if the fine is left unpaid. After 28 days the parent can be prosecuted, at which point they face a £2,500 fine or even a three-month prison sentence.
Will I actually be prosecuted?
All this comes after John Platt, 46, a businessman from the Isle of Wight, refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on a week-long trip to Disneyland Florida.
His case even reached the Supreme Court. But Mr Platt’s argument – that his daughter’s high overall attendance of 92.3 percent should be taken into account – was rejected and he now faces prosecution.
The judges said Mr Platt had shown a “blatant disregard of school rules” and that his approach was a “slap in the face” to parents who play by the rules.
This case has far-reaching consequences for the parents of England’s school-age children.
Do these rules apply to all British parents?
No – education is a devolved policy, so the rules only apply in England.
Scotland and Northern Ireland have no fines for holidaying parents, although the Scottish government does advise schools to keep term-time absences low.
In Wales parents are allowed up to ten days of term-time holiday at the headteacher’s discretion.
Even within England, some councils have wildly differing approaches. A BBC investigation earlier this year found that 35 English councils have changed their policy on term-time absences as a direct result of Platt’s highly-publicised case, with a further five currently reviewing their guidelines.
Since John Platt's case, 28 councils have even withdrawn fines. Whilst Suffolk Council issued more than 6,000 fines during the 2015-16 school year, for example, North Tyneside issued only 108. Richmond-upon-Thames did not issue a single fine.
Am I the only one who doesn't agree with this?
Polls suggest that parents strongly back Mr Platt, with many keen to take advantage of lower term-time travel costs. A poll by Atomik Research last year showed that 84 percent of Brits believe parents should not be criminalised for term-time holidays, with 63 percent of teachers saying the same, according to TES.