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Parents take a stand against unfair fines

Author: Gail Harris

The row over term-time holidays shows no signs of ending.

According to a report in the Doncaster Free Press (17 Nov), Doncaster Council issued parents with more than 2,400 fines for term-time holidays during 2015/16.

The figures are alarming, but what’s most alarming is that parents seem to think they have no right to appeal against the fine.

In a recent case to hit the headlines, a couple from Manchester escaped a £240 fine issued by the council because they challenged the decision on the basis that their trip had ‘educational value’.

Hannah Manchester and Neil Hynes had taken their sons, Isaak 10 and Liam 6, out of school for a family holiday, hoping that the children’s ‘outstanding’ attendance record would stand them in good stead.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Miss Manchester commented: “We don’t take the boys out of school for any old reason. But we’re very confident that the outstanding attendance of both our boys and the broader educational value of our planned trip meant it was acceptable on this occasion.”

The couple felt that visits to some of Spain’s important landmarks, galleries and museums in addition to exposure to the Spanish language, would significantly benefit the boys, particularly Isaak, who is studying Spanish at school.

Miss Manchester is now encouraging other parents to take a stand against the ‘unfair’ fines.

There are also arguments over the definition of ‘regular attendance’ after a case in the Isle of White, where parent, Jon Platt challenged a fine for taking his daughter to Florida for a week. He argued that the fine was illegal as his daughter attended school ‘regularly’ at all other times. The judge in the case considered his daughter’s overall 90% attendance did in fact constitute ‘regular’ and Mr Platt won his case.

Angela Sandhal, specialist education law solicitor at Atherton Godfrey, commented: “The law has always been clear that parents are required to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school and it will be interesting to see how local authorities will now adopt their policies, as they must undoubtedly do, in the light of this important judgment.”

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