The news that a father has lost a landmark legal battle at the UK’s highest court over taking his daughter to Disney World during school term time has caused a huge debate among Echo readers.
Five justices at the Supreme Court unanimously allowed an appeal by education chiefs against an earlier ruling that Jon Platt had not acted unlawfully.
Mr Platt, who took his daughter on a seven-day family trip to Florida in April 2015 without the school’s permission, was prosecuted by Isle of Wight Council after he refused to pay a £120 penalty.
But local magistrates found there was no case to answer.
Two High Court judges in London later upheld the magistrates’ decision, declaring Mr Platt was not acting unlawfully because his daughter had a good overall attendance record of over 90%.
They said the magistrates were entitled to take into account the “wider picture” of the child’s attendance record outside of the dates she was absent on the holiday.
In an action closely watched by schools and parents all over the country, the council urged the Supreme Court to overturn the High Court decision, saying it raised important issues over what constitutes “regular attendance” at school.
In a poll on the Echo website which asked: “Would being fined put you off taking children on holiday in term time?” 15% said yes while 85% said no.
Sunderland Conservative councillor Robert Oliver welcomed the ruling, saying: “Education should be valued more than taking holidays so the Supreme Court judgement is good news for schools and the many parents who avoid taking their children out of school and book holidays during the many weeks in a year when schools are closed.
“Headteachers are able to give a large range of exemptions to allow parents to take their children out of school for family events such as funerals and visits and most take a reasonable stance on this allowing sensible requests but not holidays themselves.
“There is a worrying cultural difference between some parents in the UK who want holidays during term time and many parents in countries such as China who want more study for their children during the holidays with obvious results for their academic outcomes.”
Sunderland City Council said its policy over fining parents for non-attendance at school did not change during the time the case was being investigated.
Schools submit Financial Penalty Notice (FPN) requests when a pupil has 20 or more continuous sessions of unauthorised holiday.
For a FPN to be considered the sessions must be continuous.
Readers took to the Echo’s Facebook page to offer their views.
Paul Bray wrote: “It’s the holiday companies that should be fined for increasing there prices during school holidays it should be a first come first serve basis all year round.
“Why should we pay £2,000 then a family go a week after us to the same hotel/resort £1,000.”
Kevin Shaw wrote: “UK school terms times need reforming.
“They are stuck in Victorian times and do not meet the needs of their customers - i.e. children and mostly working parents.”
Jo-Anne May Shepherd said: “Paying the fine still works out cheaper than paying the extortionate flight prices during school holidays.
“It’s the greedy travel companies that should be fined not the parents.”
Deb Pulling wrote: “How dare they tell parents when they can and can’t take their children on holiday, no school will tell me when I can and can’t take my child on holiday!
“There is no way taking a holiday is going to disrupt any child’s education!”