16th May 2016

There has been an interesting development in respect of the criminal offence of failing to secure the attendance of children at school. Jon Platt was originally issued a fixed penalty by the Isle of Wight council for taking his daughter out of school for a family holiday. He refused to pay and the matter was listed for a trial at the Magistrates court at which Mr Platt seems to have successfully argued that the case was not made out as his daughter’s attendance at school was regular. The Local Authority sought a review before the High Court. Mr Platt was again successful and the High Court held that it is for the prosecution to prove not just that a child missed a particular day at school without good reason but that the parent failed to secure their regular attendance taking into account the child’s attendance record as a whole.

Whilst this is a welcome development that ensures well-meaning parents should not be prosecuted for good faith decisions to keep their children off school on rare occasions it further complicates what is an already quite complex area of law. Nor have we heard the last of this. Whilst it is unclear whether or not the council will appeal the Government have already said they intend to legislate to make the behaviour of the type alleged in this case a criminal offence.

If in any doubt seek legal advice.