Platt case: inflexibility wins

I’ve been following this case with worry. I’m not entirely comfortable with Jon Platt’s confrontational approach, and I can see the need for schools to have high attendance.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/apr/06/supreme-court-upholds-ban-on-term-time-holidays-jon-platt-unauthorised-break

Regardless, I really can’t approve of this judgement. I understand that there is a need to balance (a) parents’ needs for flexibility, (b) schools’ needs to have children there at predictable times, and (c) children’s needs for an education. But this ruling seems to say that rules can/should be enforced rigidly, regardless of circumstance, and that’s rarely helpful.

Remember that the original rule change was the government *removing* headteachers’ rights to agree to absence in term time. This was not a school vs parents case, it was about whether the government rules can override parents’ and teachers’ judgement.

One thought on “Platt case: inflexibility wins

  1. If you read the judgment summary https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/docs/uksc-2016-0155-press-summary.pdf (i don’t have time to read the whole thing!), it appears the judgment does not say that rules can/should be enforced rigidly, regardless of circumstance. It says the law should be clear and certain so that people are clear that is and isn’t a criminal offence- “regular attendance” means “attendance in accordance with the school rules”. But that says nothing about rigid enforcement of rules. It is about certainty in what the rules are. They go on; “A sensible prosecution policy will allow minor or trivial breaches to be dealt with appropriately”. That is the enforcement part. There is also the exception that it is not an offence if the child is absent with the school’s permission. You may not like the balance struck in what the law is and when teachers can or cannot give that permission,but that is a different matter, not for the supreme court but for parliament. .

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