Parents fined £3m a year for term-time family holidays
Jon Platt, 44, successfully argued that his daughter’s unauthorised absence did not mean she failed to attend school on a regular basis and had his fine thrown out of court by magistrates on the Isle of Wight after he argued that the law required parents only to ensure that their children attend school regularly . Campaigners have speculated that this could help pave the way for hundreds of other parents to also appeal their fines. But ministers have argued that missing school is detrimental to a child s education.
Over the past year, across 98 councils who responded to the Freedom of Information Act, 86,010 fines were issued in 2014/15 for pupil absence either through Discount Holidays © holiday or truancy. This was up from 62,204 the year before and 32,512 in 2012/13.
Craig Langman, who founded the campaigning group Parents Want A Say after his young son was prevented by his school from visiting his elderly grandfather during term-time, is concerned that the Government is lumping those pursing enriching term-time holidays with children who are playing truant.
Writing in the Telegraph1, he argued: The Government has lost sight of what is in the best interest of children. Rather than applying blanket policies, each request should be assessed individually, to reflect on the differing needs of each family. And workers in the hospitality industry have complained that the strict law has led to a sharp dip in revenues. One in five West Country tourism businesses have said that the ‘Gove effect’ has led to a drop of more than 30 per cent in turnover over the past two years2 costing the industry 87 million a year.
The latest figures were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act for an investigation by the Press Association into truancy fines.