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More than 100 parents escape fines after council re-think on unauthorised school absences

By Adrian Curtis

Holiday time - County Council allow more than 100 parents to go unpunished for taking kids on holiday during term time
Holiday time - County Council allow more than 100 parents to go unpunished for taking kids on holiday during term time

Cambs kids get holiday boost

More than 100 Cambridgeshire parents have escaped fines after taking their kids on holiday during term time.

The more relaxed approach to unauthorised absence in schools across the county comes hot on the heels of May’s landmark ruling which saw a parent successfully challenge the policy on the Isle of Wight.

Sandown businessman Jon Platt was told by magistrates in October that he had “no case to answer”, when he failed to pay a £120 fine from the Isle of Wight Council, who then challenged the decision in London’s High Court.

But the judge backed the original ruling by the magistrates leaving the door open to similar claims and providing councils across the UK with the need to re-think the controversial policy.

Mr Platt had taken his seven-year-old daugther out of schoool for holidays to Disney World and Lapland and his court victory has paved the way for parents across Cambridgeshire to escape fines for taking their kids on holiday during term time.

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) revealed that since Mr Platt’s court success, 117 parents in Cambridgeshire, who would otherwise have been hit with the initial £60 fine, have escaped punishment.

Local schools referred the parents to the county council but no action was taken following the ruling.

A spokesperson for CCC, said: “Cambridgeshire County Council does not issue parents with a Penalty Notice (PN) fine for a first time offence. Our Penalty Notice Code of Conduct is robust and rigorous in that we do ensure our strict criteria are followed and individual case referrals are looked at to ensure consistency and fairness.

“With regards to the recent appeal outcome for the Isle of Wight case, Parents should be cautious about treating this as High Court endorsement of any term-time holiday. Every case should be treated on an individual basis and with due consideration of the circumstances. Ultimately, it is the head teacher of the school who decides if a period of leave during term time should be authorised or not.

“From Monday, May 16, 2016 when we receive any referrals from schools for a Penalty Notice for a holiday alone to be issued, we will only issue a PN for holiday absences where there are other unauthorised absences which take the attendance percentage below 90 per cent.”

However, before Mr Platt’s success in the court, CCC issued 748 fines in 2015/16 for unauthorised absences from school.


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