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Term time holidays: 'we'll only fine persistent absence' says Kent County Council in light of Jon Platt's High Court win

Kent County Council says it is operating within the rules in fining parents who take children out of school during term time. 

Education chiefs reiterated their position in light of a successful legal challenge brought by a a father who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter for a term-time holiday.

Jon Platt, from the Isle of Wight, was fined by his local council after taking his family to Disney World without permission, but won his case today at the High Court.

Families are accepting fines as they are still saving on the cost of holidays
Families are accepting fines as they are still saving on the cost of holidays

The win suggests other parents could mount similar challenges. 

The government tightened up on authorised absences in 2013, and since then Kent County Council has collected tens of thousands of pounds in fines from those caught breaking the rules.

However, KCC said today the council was confident it was enforcing the law fairly, having reviewed its Education Penalty Notices Code of Conduct last summer.

Following consultation with headteachers, school governors and the police in September 2015, KCC decided penalty notices would only be issued for "persistent absence from school."

A spokesman said: “The new Code of Conduct came into force on January 1 2016 and a penalty notice for unauthorised absence is only issued where a child has attendance of 90% persistent absence level or below, or where there are aggravating factors such as removing a child from school over a period of examination.

“Kent County Council believes it is therefore operating the penalty notice system in line with the outcome of today’s High Court Appeal decision.”

For many parents, fines remain cheaper than paying peak-season prices for a family break, as holiday companies hike their prices over the summer months. 

But a number of parents have branded the system unfair, because it penalises people who cannot take time off work during the school holidays.

Last year Iwade engineer Ian Hall told Kent Online he had to pay £120 after he and his wife, Michelle, were fined for taking their six-year-old son abroad during term-time this year.

The 46-year-old said: “I can’t get holidays off in August because it’s our busiest period. I can only take holidays in June.

“I wrote to the school at the beginning of last year to say I will be taking my holiday in June and that we would take extra homework for Leo with us.

"My wife and I were fined £60 each, because it’s £60 per parent, per child.

"I think you’d find that 90% of parents are missing out on holidays because they can’t do it in August.”


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