Leeds City Council remains staunch on term-time holidays after landmark legal decision

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The head of children’s services in Leeds has re-stated the council’s staunch position against parents taking pupils on holiday during term time after a landmark legal battle.

There were 6,866 penalty notices dished out in Leeds over this issue in 2015 and 2016. And yesterday, five justices at the UK’s highest court unanimously allowed an appeal by education chiefs against an earlier ruling that father Jon Platt had not acted unlawfully by taking his daughter to Disney World when she could have been in class.

Steve Walker, Leeds City Council’s director of children’s services, said: “We believe, and always will do, that the best place for children to be during term time is in school.

“We have always encouraged parents to think twice before booking holidays during term time as children with poor attendance tend to achieve less well in both primary and secondary school.

“This is also the view of the government who changed the law on absence from school in September 2013. Any fine we issue is in line with our code of conduct and we follow statutory guidance from the government.

“Our code of conduct is clear and a fixed penalty notice would be issued for any unauthorised absences of five days or more within a 12 week period.”

He added: “Our policy has not changed during the course of recent court cases. There have been no major reductions in the amount of penalty notice requests we have received from schools. We will continue to support schools and parents to ensure that children attend school regularly and benefit from taking a full and active part in daily school life.”

The justices ruled in the favour of Isle of Wight Council, which had prosecuted Mr Platt after he refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on the seven-day Florida trip in April 2015. Magistrates found he had no case to answer, but the council appealed.

Michael Tennant.

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