Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight school absence case 'should have been dropped'

Jonathan Platt Image copyright PA
Image caption The High Court upheld the magistrates' conclusion that Jonathan Platt's daughter had attended school regularly

Isle of Wight Council's new children's services councillor says a long-running legal battle over term-time absences should have been dropped months ago.

The island's previous Independent-led administration lodged an appeal after the High Court ruled in favour of a father who took his child on holiday.

The Supreme Court challenge to that ruling is due to be heard next week.

Conservative Chris Whitehouse said the case should have been dropped after the initial magistrates' hearing in 2015.

Mr Whitehouse, who became executive member for children's services after the Conservatives took control of the council last week, said: "I have not changed my position on the school absences case, it should have been dropped immediately after the magistrates' hearing.

"I am limited in what I can say formally about this case because of a legal agreement entered into by my predecessor on behalf of the council.

"I intend to take further independent legal advice and may issue a purely personal statement in due course."

Daughter to Florida

The Supreme Court hearing, due to be heard on Tuesday 31 January, follows months of legal wrangling over the case of Jonathan Platt, who was fined £120 after taking his daughter to Florida.

When magistrates concluded Mr Platt had no case to answer because his daughter had attended school regularly, Isle of Wight Council appealed to the High Court, which also ruled in favour of Mr Platt.

The latest challenge was launched by the then Independent-led council on the request of Schools Minister Nick Gibb, with a commitment from the Department for Education (DfE) to meet the council's costs.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "Our position remains that children should not be taken out of school without good reason.

"That is why we have tightened the rules and are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence.

"The evidence shows that every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chances of achieving good GCSEs."

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