It’s not uncommon for parents to pull their kids out of school every now and then, but in the UK, parents can actually be fined for doing so. And one dad refused to pony up.
“Paying the fine was an acceptance that I had committed a criminal offence. That's just not true,” dad Jon Platt told “Good Morning Britain.”
Platt had taken his six-year-old daughter on vacation to Florida last year and the school council fined him £120 (£60 for the absence and £60 for refusing to pay).
According to BBC, nearly 64,000 parents have been fined for their kids being absent from school between September 2013 and August 2014. This is because in 2013, the Department for Education introduced new regulations stating that only the school can authorize absences in “exceptional circumstances,” such as if a death in the family occurred or if the student observed a religious holiday.
When Platt didn't pay up, his local school council "asked the High Court to clarify whether a seven-day absence amounted to a child failing to attend regularly," reports the BBC.
“Paying the fine was an acceptance that I had committed a criminal offence. That's just not true.”
On Friday, the UK High Court ruled in Platt's favour, stating that there was no proof that his daughter failed to attend class regularly.
— Heart London News (@HeartLondonNews) May 13, 2016
“I am obviously hugely relieved. I know that there was an awful lot riding on this -- not just for me but for hundreds of other parents,” Platt said following the ruling.
The father argued that taking his children out of a school once a year “does not harm them at all.” He also added that his kids are doing very well in school despite not having 100 per cent attendance.
As a result of the ruling, the Department for Education is now looking to change its laws. However, they are adamant that their stance on school absences is “clear and correct.”
“The evidence is clear 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,” a spokesperson for the department said.
“I am obviously hugely relieved. I know that there was an awful lot riding on this – not just for me but for hundreds of other parents.”
In the UK, as well as Canada and the U.S., parents may opt to pull kids from class during the school year to go on vacation, since the cost during this time is vastly cheaper.
In the comments on Independent UK, one reader wrote: “Probably learn more from spending a couple of weeks in a foreign country than you would learn in an entire year at school.”
Another agreed, saying, “I think the Establishment forget (sic) that most parents are responsible and are able to take factors into account when deciding to take their child out of school! Most parents would only take their child out of school if the child's attendance was good, their performance at school was good and it wasn't during an exam year.”
"I do know what's best for my kids" - Jon Platt is going to court after taking his child out of school in term-time https://t.co/2alAa3eOXV— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) May 13, 2016
In Canada, parents cannot be fined for children missing school. However, prolonged absences – meaning 15 consecutive, unexplained nonattendances – can result in kids repeating a grade. Fortunately, this is rare since school boards help provide parents and students with support and resources to improve a child’s attendance.
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