Belfast Telegraph

Parents 'more likely' to take children on term-time holiday since court ruling

Almost half of parents say they are more likely to take their children on holiday during term-time in light of a recent High Court judgment in favour of a father who took his daughter to Florida.

An investigation by car insurance firm Esure found 65% of parents are confused about the legality of term-time breaks after senior judges backed a ruling that Jon Platt had no case to answer because his daughter attended school regularly during the rest of the school year.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb has said the Government will do "everything in its power" to ensure headteachers are able to keep children in school.

He has requested Isle of Wight Council to return to court to appeal against the decision, and has promised Department for Education (DfE) funding and legal counsel for the application in either the High Court or Supreme Court.

A poll of 562 parents for Esure found 46% are either 'more likely' or 'likely' to book a term time family holiday after the High Court judgment, with the results suggesting that 1.7 million or 21% planned to do so in the next year alone.

However figures released by councils in response to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests from Esure show they are issuing an increasing number of fines to parents who take their children out of school without permission.

More than 47,157 parents were fined during the 2013/14 academic year, rising to 74,278 in 2014/15.

The majority of local education authorities said they were strict about fining parents except for North Tyneside Council, Milton Keynes Council, Warrington Borough Council and the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, who suggested they were more lenient, Esure said.

Nikki Sellers, head of travel insurance at Esure said: "It's no wonder parents are feeling confused when they're finding themselves hearing contradictory messages. On one hand, they see a father told that he was allowed to take his child on holiday, while some local councils are still enforcing fines on those who do this.

"The difference in cost for taking a family trip away during the school holidays versus during term-time is huge, so it's hardly surprising that they're willing to risk a £60 fine."

Mr Gibb said: " We are clear - children should not be taken out of school during term except in exceptional circumstances. There should be no confusion on this point. We know the recent High Court judgment has created some uncertainty for parents, which is why it is essential that the ruling is clarified through the appeal.

"The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chance of gaining good GCSEs which has a lasting effect on their life chances. Unauthorised absence during term time doesn't just have an impact on the child's education, but also on teachers and other children.

"While family holidays are enriching experiences, the school year is designed to give families the opportunity for these breaks without having to disrupt their children's education."

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