St John's C of E Primary School, Caterham

St Johns Caterham

St John's C of E Primary School, Caterham images

Penalty Notices for Leave of Absence

On 13 May 2016 the High Court heard an appeal brought by the Isle of Wight Local Authority in respect of the case of Jonathan Platt who had successfully argued at the Magistrates Court that he had no case to answer in respect of a summons for failing to ensure his child’s regular school attendance following his failure to pay a penalty notice for taking his child out of school for seven days to go on holiday.

The High Court agreed with the Magistrates’ decision and the Isle of Wight Authority, supported by the DfE, appealed to the Supreme Court for clarification of what is ‘regular school attendance’.

 The judgement states that regular attendance is defined as “in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school.” In theory, this could mean that a parent could be issued with a penalty notice or face prosecution, for one day of unauthorised absence, but this would be a disproportionate course of action.

As agreed by the Phase Councils, school attendance policies should reflect that pupils are expected to attend 100% of the time, unless the absence is authorised by the Head Teacher.

Previously in Surrey, in conjunction with the Schools’ Phase Councils, it was agreed penalty notices would only be issued for 5 or more days of unauthorised leave of absence (including holidays).

Pending the outcome of the IOW –v- Platt case this could not be enforced and many parents took unauthorised leave of absence/holiday without receiving a penalty notice.

However, following this judgement and in consultation with S.C.C. legal team, we will now revert to issuing penalty notices for 5 or more days unauthorised leave of absence.

 Currently, penalties are are issued £60 per parent/carer per child for 5 or more days of absence.

 The IOW –v- Platt case will not be used retrospectively. We will not be able to issue penalty notices for unauthorised leave of absence which were taken before the Supreme Court judgement on the 6th April 2017.