Government hits back after High Court ruling on term-time holidays


The Government will do "everything in its power" to stop children being taken out of school for unauthorised term-time holidays after a High Court ruled in favour of a father who took his daughter to Florida, a minister said.

Earlier this month the High Court backed Jon Platt after he refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school without permission.

Schools minister Nick Gibb said the ruling represented a "significant threat" to the Government's drive to keep children in school.

Meanwhile he warned that the UK must not return to a "Dickensian world where the needs of industry and commerce" trump the need to educate amid fears that the current system of school holidays hurts the tourism industry.

Mr Platt was fined by Isle of Wight Council after he took his family on the holiday, which included a visit to Walt Disney World, without the permission of his child's school.

The father's legal victory has raised the prospect of more parents challenging the fines issued by schools.

Responding to an urgent question in the Commons, Mr Gibb said: "The High Court oral judgment represents a significant threat to one of the Government's most important achievements in education over the last six years: improving school attendance.

"For this reason the Government will do everything in its power to ensure head teachers are able to keep children in school."

At the moment parents can get permission from a head teacher for a term-time absence, but only in "exceptional circumstances" like the death of a relative.

Mr Gibb said the desire to go on holiday to Disney World does not meet such a threshold.

He said: "The need to take time off school in exceptional circumstances is important but there are no special circumstances where a 10-day family holiday to Disney World should be allowed to trump the importance of school.

"The rules must and should apply to everyone. This is about social justice."