Families taking term-time holidays double after ruling

Parents have been scrambling to book cheaper term-time holidays after the High Court backed a father who refused to pay a fine for taking his daughter out of school.

One online travel agent said that bookings for getaways during the summer term almost doubled last weekend after the ruling. Sunshine.co.uk reported that demand during the summer break had fallen by a third.

Jon Platt, a businessman from the Isle of Wight, won his case against his local council last week after it issued him with a £120 fine for taking his daughter out of school for a week’s holiday in Florida. He argued that the council had no right to fine him because her attendance was otherwise exemplary, a victory that lawyers said would pave the way for thousands of similar challenges.

Chris Clarkson, of sunshine.co.uk, said: “It seems that many parents are already taking this court case as a sign that they too could get out of a fine.”

The website found that bookings of family holidays during term time were 88 per cent higher last weekend than the weekend before. Bookings in July and August were down 32 per cent.

The first week of July and the last week of September were the most popular weeks for parents to take their children out of school.

Searches for flights to popular family destinations during the spring and autumn terms also surged after the ruling. Cheapflights.co.uk said that demand for term-time flights to Lanzarote was up by 50 per cent last weekend compared with the weekend before. Demand for flights in the summer holidays to the same destination had dropped by 15 per cent.

Package holidays cost on average a third more during school summer holidays and the price of flights increases fourfold in the spring half-term.

Experts warned parents to remain cautious until the law is changed. Andrew Shelton of Cheapflights.co.uk said: “The nuances of this ruling were very specific and parents must continue to ensure that they are fully aware of the policies of their local authority before booking a flight.”

Earlier this week Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, met lawyers to discuss the ruling. It is unclear whether she will issue new guidance or attempt to change the law. The Department for Education said that it was awaiting the High Court’s written judgment.