Following Isle of Wight Council v Platt 2017
UKSC 28, the Supreme Court unanimously held that a failure for a child to comply
with the attendance rules set by the school would construe as the child failing
to attend school regularly. Thus, as laid out by Section 444(1) of the 1996
Education Act, Respondent, Mr Platt was found guilty of an offence.
Mr Platt sought permission
from his daughter’s (Mary) head teacher to remove her from school for a week-long
holiday. On the 9th February, Mr Platt received a response from the
head teacher refusing his request, with a warning that he would receive a
(blank) if he was to take his daughter out of school. Mr Platt did not listen
to this refusal and proceeded to remove his daughter from 13 April 2015 and 21
April 2015. Resulting in his daughter missing 7 school days. Upon return, Mr
Platt was issued with a fixed penalty notice of £60 which had to be paid by 4
June 2015. He failed to do so and that same day, he was sent an invoice
requiring him to pay £120 by 10th June 2015. He failed to pay this
penalty too and was prosecuted with an offence under section 444 (1) of the Education Act 1996.
In court, Mr Platt pleaded
not guilty and the magistrates held that Mr Platt had no case to answer. Mary’s
attendances being at 90.3% (including the unauthorised holiday) was the basis
of their conclusion. As the document supplied on refusal of leave stated that
an attendance between 90-95% is classed as satisfactory.
After the trial, the local authority
appealed the case to the Divisional court. They appealed on the issue of
whether the Magistrates were entitled to take into account Mary’s attendance at
school outside her period of absence rather than just focusing on the dates of the
unauthorised holiday. The courts held that the magistrates were not erred in
doing so. The Isle of Wight Council appealed to the Supreme Court, after the
Department for Education requested they do so.
Lady Hale gave the judgement
of this case and held that there were 3 possible meanings of “regularly” in the
Education Act provision. it could mean (a) “evenly spaced”; (b) “sufficiently
often; or (c) in accordance with the rules.