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School Absence Battle

UPDATE: Simpson Millar LLP’s freedom of information request finds 105 councils have issued fines, costing parents a minimum of £6,849,900.

In the video above, solicitor Julie Robertson discusses the Jon Platt ruling from May, where his prosecution under the Education Act of 1996 was thrown out by the Magistrates court.  Julie commented on the decision:

“This has provided much needed clarity for parents as to whether regular attendance can continue to be decided on an individual basis by the lower Courts. This decision gives parents the freedom and comfort to continue to take their children out of school during term time provided that they secure regular attendance on the whole.”

Fast-forward to October, and Simpson Millar has requested figures through a freedom of information request, which have shockingly revealed that more than 114,000 fines were issued to parents in the 2015/2016 school year for unauthorised absences.

Parents Left Misinformed Of Their Rights

Julie is concerned that many parents may not have a full understanding of their rights when it comes to challenging Education Penalty Notices, and believes many are often told – wrongly – that they have no right to appeal.

Julie says:

“It is hugely worrying that parents are told by some councils that they have no statutory right of appeal when in fact they have a common law right to do just that. It is misleading and very concerning.”

“The threat of criminal proceedings and a possible conviction naturally makes parents pay up without question.”

“In court, the prosecution has to prove that the parents did not secure regular attendance and, in my experience, they often can’t. In fact, these cases are regularly thrown out of court at half time.”

“Any parent who feels they have wrongly been issued with an Education Penalty Notice should seek legal advice within the first 21 days.”

Term Time Holiday Fines: The Facts

  • 105 councils issued 114,165 fines to parents in the 15/16 school year
  • Suffolk, Lancashire and Bradford top chart for number of fines issued
  • Nearly 45,000 fines handed out by ten most prolific councils
  • Lawyer slams councils for scaremongering and misleading parents

Have you got a term time holiday booked, and are you worried about your local authority fining you for taking your children out of school? Check out our most up-to-date figures and see how many fines your local authority handed out in 2015-16.

For more information on Julie‘s work, or to read our full report, visit Simpson Millar to find out more!

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