UK court upholds fine against parent who took child out of class "without authorization"

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Like a lot of English laws this is basically a middle-class offence; the upper classes send their children to private schools with rules that suit the parents, the under-class has children which, if they go to school, probably go to schools where truancy is too high to control.

It’s more of a “keep people under control” law which is why such hugely expensive efforts have been made to uphold it.


On the other hand we don’t want people to abuse children by preventing them from getting an education.


The vacation was probably more educational than the class


Sounds like gym class.


The reasoning is more that the government has a responsibility towards the kids to get a proper education. Crazy from a US point of view, but as a European, this is a no-brainer to me.


In the novel Nineteen Eighty Four the surveillance hell is only applied to “outer party” – government officials are watched but can turn off broadcasts and think naughty things, and the “proles” are just left to their own devices, like livestock.


Manifestly not the case here: the child had an excellent attendance record and was otherwise academically thriving. The case centered on issues of authorization, “disruption”, the responsibilities of parents to the collective wellbeing, and so forth

All this is presumably why lower courts sided with the father, leaving the government itself to take the case to the Supremes.


My sister was brought to court for truancy in the states because she had both been sick and then went to Belize for a week with my parents one semester in high school. The fact she had straight A’s as well as notes from a doctor didn’t seem to matter to any educators until my parents talked to a judge and he laughed at them.

At least the courts here seem to respect personal freedoms a bit more.


I agree with the ruling. It would be disruptive to take out a child to go on holiday without clearing it with the school. Not only will the child fall behind, it will also cause other children to make similar claims, i.e. “why can they go on holiday and I have to sit in school?”.

You want to set a precedent where parents decide if a kid goes to school on a whim, because “freedom”? I can see many ways this would lead to negative effects for the rest of the population.


I agree with the ruling as well, and if the parents really wanted to take the kid on holiday they should’ve gotten with the teacher/school to lay out a plan to make sure that their kid wouldn’t fall behind. Seems like the responsible adult-y thing to do :stuck_out_tongue:


Here’s a story from 5 years ago here in the US.


the authorities can serve mandatory school attendance orders if they don’t like the look of your curriculum

Good. Wish this would happen here, we’d have less quiverfull lunatics and the like running around.


Different scenario though. They didn’t have a sick note. They just went on holiday.

Your sister probably would have been fine in the UK.

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So your reasoning is that it’s ok to punish someone for causing emotional distress on par with wearing bright colours or loudly chewing gum? Citizens are NOT the property of the state.
Not dolls for greater powers to direct and play with.


I don’t see how messing with a kid’s education is on par with wearing bright colours or chewing gum.
If you raise a bunch of uninformed citizens, you’ll end up with all kinds of issues… oh wait. :sweat_smile:


They aren’t property of the state, but there’s also the kid’s well being and schooling to consider. Taking your kid out and not talking to the teacher to ensure they won’t fall behind borders on neglect. This ruling may seem like overreaching and i agree, but i think all things considered it’s more of a warning to the parents to plan properly rather than do whatever they want. If they don’t give a damn about the kid’s schooling they might as well just take him out of school permanently.


Interesting. I’ve generally supported Thoreau’s position that government is best which governs least. Consequently, I have no issue with the government stepping in when a parent has become seriously derelict in their duty to ensure a proper education for their child, but find it ridiculous to assess a fine for merely taking a child out of school for a family trip.

Government, and the larger society, should trust adults to govern their own affairs without interference, unless they indicate their inability to do so by their actions. And when I say their actions, I am referring to serious transgressions or lapses, not merely by making choices that the society disapproves of. Of course, that may be a fine line in some instances.


Children might ask questions and educators might have to answer them? In a school setting?

Oh, the horror.


Government interference should be appropriate. I think it is here. They didn’t track the kid down and force them back to school. They retroactively fined the parents a supposedly “small” amount.