Suffolk NUT broadly against term-time holidays but says headteachers should use discretion in some family situations

Jon Platt. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire.

Jon Platt. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Suffolk’s largest teaching union has broadly backed calls urging parents not to remove children from school for term-time holidays after a father’s landmark legal victory against a £60 fine.

Jon Platt was fined by Isle of Wight Council after he took his six-year-old daughter on a family trip to Florida without permission from his child’s school.

But he refused to pay and on Friday he was supported by the High Court – a ruling which casts uncertainty over how the law is applied nationwide.

A Department for Education (DfE) source said “we shall now look to change the law and strengthen statutory guidance”.

Headteachers reacted to the news by admitting parents may be encouraged to contesting fines but urged families to not take children out of school for holidays. A poll by this newspaper found jut over eight in 10 readers believe parents should be allowed to remove children from school for cheaper term-time family holidays.

Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: “This ruling may give parents confidence to take children out of school which is not what we want to happen. Parents should consider seriously the potential impact on their child’s education by removing them from school.

“They should seek to minimise that impact wherever possible.

“Schools should also consider each application and judge the impact for each request, taking into consideration academic progress, benefits of a holiday, and previous absence for example.”

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He added: “I am a great believer in discretion and common sense. Obviously as teachers we feel pupils are best off in education at all times.

“Clearly there is a place for trips and visits which enable pupils to experience a range of stimuli and knowledge of cultures and traditions. Holidays can be very beneficial to pupils as it enables them to visit different countries and experience a different way of life.

“The NUT does not believe that it is beneficial for pupils to miss school. However, if it is extenuating circumstances or there are very good reasons why, then obviously they should been given permission to miss school.

“We accept that holidays have become increasingly more expensive and that the differential between term-time and non term-time holiday costs is large.

“We accept that for some families that differential is too large. Clearly there are some workers who are given a fixed time for their holidays and this may not be during school holiday periods.

“In those circumstances it may be that the head would use their discretion and allow pupils to be absent. The head is likely to grant permission where the pupil’s absence is low overall. In this court case the pupil’s absence overall was around 14 days over the year.”