Today, Thursday 6 April, the Supreme Court handed down their judgment in the case of Jon Platt vs Isle of Wight Council.
The Supreme Court unanimously accepted the arguments put forward by the Isle of Wight Council and the Department for Education that ‘regularly’ as outlined in section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996 means in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school.
In essence, the law is clear – regular attendance means children should be expected to attend school for every session.
There is no change to the existing rules and guidance on term time absence as a result of this judgment.
The government’s position remains that children should not be taken out of school without good reason as evidence shows that 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.
It is a matter for schools and local authorities to decide whether to issue a penalty notice for unauthorised term time absence and for local authorities to determine whether or not to prosecute. As before, headteachers have the ability to decide when exceptional circumstances allow for a child to be absent. This remains the case following today’s judgment.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with our position – that no child should be taken out of school without good reason. As before, headteachers 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.
We will examine the judgment carefully and will update schools and local authorities as soon as possible so they are clear what the judgment means for them.