This one has been rumbling on for quite some time. Although it has now come to an end with the Supreme Court in the UK judging against Jon Platt. If anyone does not know the story, Mr Platt was fined by his local authority for taking his daughter on term-time holidays and refusing to pay the £60 fine issued by the local authority. Mr Platt went through the various legal stages in the UK and ended up in the Supreme Court and has now lost.
I remember being back at school that the headteacher could grant discretionary leave for unforeseen circumstances outside of illness and grief. However, it is now the case that headteachers usually do not do this unless it is exceptional circumstances. I can understand how frustrating it must be for the parent since holiday operators do tend to charge extra during holiday time and to be honest why would they not, if they can get away with it. There is no doubt it is good business practice, whether you think it is morally right for these companies to raise prices by as much as 50% during school holiday times is another matter.
Speaking from an educators point of view, it is incredibly disruptive when students have unauthorised absences, as it disrupts not only the missing student but also the present students if the teacher chooses to revisit topics that have already been covered. Now if this is happening six or seven times a year with different students, it does start to become a problem. The local authority stance seems to be relating to regular attendance, so this certainly needs to be made clear to parents, so they know where they stand on the issue.
I am sure that it has been a costly and upsetting time for Mr Platt to ultimately be on the wrong end of the court’s decision, however, we at least now know where we stand going forward. So, we are back to the situation that it has been put in the hands of the headteacher to decide if an unauthorised absence is warranted. Hopefully, this ends the confusion, I do hope for the sake of Mr Platt that he accepts the court’s decision and pays the fine as I would hate to see him hit with a £2500 fine or a custodial sentence.
The correct decision has been made and hopes that minimises disruption. As for the blame, I am hanging this directly on the door of the travel companies; something must be put into legislation that stops such a price hike at certain times of the year.