Surge in unauthorised term-time holidays after Platt court ruling

The number of children taken out of school without permission for a family holiday rose by a fifth after the High Court backed a father’s rights last year.

Absence figures published this morning show the number of pupils taken on unauthorised family holidays rose from 270,220 in autumn 2015, to 328,555 in autumn last year – a rise of 22 per cent.

The new absence figures are the first that fully relate to the period after the High Court’s landmark decision, in May last year, to back Jon Platt’s refusal to pay a fine for taking his daughter to Disney World during term-time.

The father, from the Isle of Wight, challenged the government’s rules barring term-time absences in state schools, with the High Court ruling he was within his rights and didn’t need to pay a fine of £120.

However the government appealed to the Supreme Court. Judges subsequently overruled the earlier decision in April.

But today’s absence figures suggests the first court case influenced the behaviour of parents and teachers.  Not only did the number of unauthorised absences rise by 22 per cent, more schools also allowed parents to take holidays during term-time.

Figures show pupils taken out of school for agreed family holidays rose from 73,395 in autumn 2015, to 79,160 in autumn last year – a rise of eight per cent.

This number had dropped every year since the autumn term in 2012 – where 383,085 pupils were granted permission to miss school for a holiday.

The proportion of absence that family holidays (both authorised and unauthorised) accounted for has increased from 7.6 per cent in autumn 2015, to 8.3 per cent of all absences in autumn last year.

However the report states the interpretation of any trends in the data release should be “treated with caution due to the volatility of single term absence figures”.

Final absence statistics relating to the full 2016-17 school year are due to be published in March next year.


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  1. I think that the ministers and officials who sit in their privileged positions of power have very little idea of what it means not to be able to go on holiday because it cannot be afforded. The issue of taking children out of school in term time is a financial one for many parents. Holiday prices double or treble in the holiday periods and this price hike makes a family holiday in the school holidays un-affordable for some parents, myself included. As a single parent I have never been able to afford a holiday for myself and my children who are now 9 and 10. I am prepared to take them out of school in term time this year as I believe that family time together in a relaxed holiday environment is more valuable in the long run to my children’s wellbeing than a week sat in school. To say that a week off from school is detrimental to their long term academic achievements is ridiculous and I would like to see some evidence to support the government’s argument that this is actually the case. Either that, or some form of government regulation on family holiday price hikes in the summer and school holiday seasons. It seems that this unfair and ill thought out fine system is another way to tax the worse off, as usual the disadvantaged families are targeted by the Tories again. To present this as ‘concern’ for children is laughable at best and disturbing at worst.