Derbyshire County Council is understood to be the first local authority in the country to temporarily scrap many term-time holiday fines, while it awaits the outcome of a potential Supreme Court case.

The local authority has temporarily stopped issuing fixed penalty notices for a majority of term-time absences, in a bid to offer clearer guidance to the schools in its area. It has said it will not issue fines to parents whose children have an overall attendance of above 94% (equating to up to 11 days absence).

This comes amid ongoing legal wrangling following a High Court ruling, which sided with dad Jon Platt after he took his daughter out of school on a term-time holiday.

Meanwhile, Isle of Wight Council, which led the initial case against Platt, is now trying to take the case to the Supreme Court to appeal the ruling, after the Department for Education pledged to fund the further hearings.

A decision on whether the case will be heard by the Supreme Court is expected within the next few months.

Martin Lewis
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What does the council say?

A Derbyshire County Council spokesperson said: "We strongly recommend that pupils should not be taken out of school during term time and do not endorse parents taking them on holiday when they should be in the classroom.

"We’ve approved new interim arrangements around unauthorised pupil absences following the Isle of Wight High Court ruling to provide schools with clear guidance to help them make decisions about when penalty notices should be issued.

"Even a small amount of time out of school can adversely affect pupils’ academic achievement and under the new arrangements penalty notices will continue to be issued where all absence, including illness and unauthorised holiday absence, results in an overall attendance of 94 per cent or below.

"We believe the arrangements provide a fair and proportionate approach while we await the outcome of a Supreme Court ruling but they do not change our view that pupils should not be taken out of school during term time and we do not condone parents taking their children on term-time holidays."

The council has stressed this is not simply an approval for parents to take children out of school, and highlighted that the 94% or less threshold will also take into absences for sickness.

The overall attendance rate will be calculated from attendance over the previous 12 months up until the week after the holiday absence.

Platt, who is raising money in preparation for any further hearings, dubbed Derbyshire County Council's decision a "victory for common sense" on his Facebook page.

The Department for Education has so far declined to comment.

What are the current rules?

As things stand, Section 444 of the Education Act states that it's an offence to fail to make sure your child goes to school "regularly".

Crucially, though, there's no definitive answer to what's meant by the word "regularly".

In a nutshell, if your child is at an English state school (private schools are exempt) and aged five to 16, you're unlikely to get permission for a term-time holiday.

If you disregard this and take your kids out of school anyway, you could face a £60 fine or worse.

For more info, see the Can you take kids on term-time holidays without being fined? 60-second guide.

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