Term time holiday ban could be dropped

Education secretary Justine Greening is ready to abandon the ban on pupils taking term-time holidays if she loses an upcoming court case, a report today claimed.

The strict ban on term-time holidays was introduced by Michael Gove in 2013.

It limited head teachers’ discretion, making it all but impossible for them to grant parents’ requests.

But the rules were thrown into chaos last May when parent Jon Platt successfully challenged a fine levied by his council on the Isle of Wight for taking his daughter on holiday to the US during the school term.

The Department for Education is funding an appeal to the Supreme Court by the council against that decision. No date is listed to hear the case.

Officials had told Greening’s predecessor Nicky Morgan that a change in the law would be required to maintain the ban if the government’s rules were defeated in the courts. 

A source close to Greening told The Times that she had yet to make a final decision and would await the appeal judgment but, with a small Commons majority, wanted “to pick the fights we want to have”.

It is understood that there is little appetite to push through the legislation required to uphold the ban in the event of a court defeat.

The source said: “The Department [for Education] already has three bills and, yes, there will be future legislation. But she wants to focus on what we are already doing and ask, are we doing it all well?”

Many head teachers have been referring parents for penalty notices for breaching the ban, which start at £60 but double if not paid within 28 days. Last year 150,000 fines were issued, costing parents a total of £6.5 million and there were 21,000 prosecutions.

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