Holiday during term time
Since the law changed in September 2013 there has been a sharp rise in fines for parents choosing to take their children on holiday during term time. Schools no longer have the authority to grant holiday in ‘special circumstances’ and instead have to be satisfied that there are ‘exceptional circumstances’ and comply with strict rules before holiday can be authorised.
The increase in fines appears to suggest that despite the financial consequences some parents will still choose to take their children away during term time. Campaigners are calling for the government to take action to prevent holiday companies unfairly increasing prices during school holiday periods.
In October 2015 the matter came before the Magistrates Court in a case where a father had taken his 6 year old daughter away for a 7 day period for a family holiday in Florida. The father was fined £120 by the local authority but refused to pay, claiming that the law only required children to attend school regularly. The child’s attendance rate for the previous year was in excess of 93% and even taking the holiday into account her attendance rate for the current year was in excess of 90%.
The Magistrates held that there was no case to answer and found in favour of the father. However, the local authority are now appealing to the High Court in an attempt to clarify what constitutes ‘regular attendance’ for the purpose of the legislation. Whether term time holidays will be permitted for those with otherwise excellent attendance records remains to be seen.
Josephine Hayes is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.