Parents face a blow to their holiday plans, as the Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot take their children out of school for an affordable break. The experts warn that this will give holiday companies even more reason to hike the cost of a break in the school holidays.
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The result is the end of a long court battle, between a parent and the government. Jon Platt went to court after he was fined by Isle of Wight Council for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday to Florida in April 2015. The local authority fined him on the grounds that he had failed to ensure her regular attendance at school. He refused to pay the £120 fine - arguing that she had more than 90% attendance, and so the local authority was wrong.
The council prosecuted, and Platt won his argument, so the Council took the case to the High Court - where the judges again sided with Platt. Unfortunately for him and his family, the Department for Education decided this could set a precedent - and cause a flood of term-time holidays - so asked the Supreme Court to rule on the case.
Platt said afterwards that this was a draconian ruling that put the final nail in the coffin for term-time breaks.
What this means
This is terrible news for Platt, who will end up back at the Magistrates court, after so much battling through the courts, where he is likely to be found guilty and fined up to £1,200. If he still refuses to pay, he could face jail.
It's also terrible news for parents who hoped for a term-time holiday bonanza. It means they cannot take their children out of school for even a single morning without the permission of the state - unless they are willing to face a financial penalty and possible criminalisation.
Unsurprisingly they're unimpressed. Andrew Shelton, Managing Director of Cheapflights.co.uk points out: "For many, it feels like this policy is like using a hammer to crack a nut and with some common-sense and flexible thinking, both schools and parents could be satisfied. The fines are a burden to both parties, and simply reinforce the issue they seek to address by forcing families to travel at set times. Rather than address the pricing forces that cause so much strife, the law will simply continue to dictate to parents and schools alike what is best for their own children and pupils."
The price differences are dramatic - with breaks during school holidays costing up to four times more. At a time when holiday prices are rising anyway, many parents can simply not afford a break during the school holidays.
The ruling will cause issues for the many parents who booked term time holidays after Platt's victory in the High Court. They will not have to decide whether to stick with their holiday plans and pay £60 fine (which rises to £120 if it's not paid within 21 days), or investigate their cancellation rights (which in many cases won't amount to anything).
It will also cause extra stress for the one in five parents who planned to book a term-time holiday in the next 12 months (according to Esure). They now face the possibility of fines and potential court appearances, purely because they want to do the best for their children, and provide them with a well-deserved holiday.
Even if you have never booked a term time holiday - and never would - this ruling will cost you dear. Shelton points out: "Today's decision in the Supreme Court may widen the price divide between term-time and school holiday even further."
They will see the Supreme Court ruling as a sign that parents have absolutely no wiggle room. They know they have a captive audience for family holidays during the school holidays, and they can squeeze as much cash out of them as they like - because they have no option but to take their break at this time of year.