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School Holidays:  to book a family holiday in term time can lead to criminal prosecution

Everyone can appreciate that oversees travel and package holidays are more expensive during the school Summer Holidays. Whilst it may seem like a promising idea to take the family away earlier and miss some term time to save money, the law is very clear on this point…

Section 444(1) of the Education Act 1996 provides that if a child of compulsory school age ‘fails to attend regularly’ at the school where he is a registered pupil, his parent is guilty of an offence. The issue in this appeal is the meaning of ‘regularly’. ‘Regularly’ has at least three possible meanings in this provision: it could mean (a) evenly spaced; (b) sufficiently often; or (c) in accordance with the rules.

A recent case before the Supreme Court discussed what ‘regularly’ means in this context. Lady Justice Hale has stated that school attendance is compulsory and must be applied in accordance with the law. LJ Hale claimed ‘…It plainly is not ‘at regular intervals’ as this would mean attendance at school once a week is regular even though attendance every day is required by the rules’.

Therefore, if you take your child away and are unable to claim there is an ‘exceptional circumstance’, it is most likely that you will be given a penalty notice upon your return from holiday.  If the penalty notice is ignored, then you can face a criminal prosecution before the magistrates’ court.

If you have any queries about how strictly the law is being applied, do contact us for a free 20-minute consultation.


We hope you have a lovely summer break!!

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