When Jon met Jackie

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Latest developments on Jackie T's prosecution over her family's term time backpacking trip through eastern Europe. She now has the welcome support of John Platt who won his case in the Isle of Wight.

When Jon met Jackie

Since we last posted about Jackie’s case, public opinion has galvanised somewhat behind the high profile rule breakers who are challenging the frankly nonsensical claims on which the government has relied (without a shred of evidence); namely that attendance at school ensures children are suitably educated (cue hollow laughter), and that missing school “even for a day” leads to poor attainment and, in all probabilty, social exclusion and permanent NEETdom. Step forward all the home educated graduates and successful business owners who are living, working evidence that these state hypotheses are unadulterated drivel (or “pure shite” as we would say in Scotland).

Jon Platt from the Isle of Wight has meanwhile emerged as something of a folk hero among campaigners and parents who have been experiencing the sharp pain of seasonally adjusted holiday costs and the burgeoning school fines industry. He is also a welcome ray of hope for those who are heading to court without legal aid, some of whom, like Jackie, haven’t even been given the opportunity to cough up the standard £60 fine for failing to obey school rules, or occupy the naughty step in suitably remorseful fashion for making an informed parenting decision. As we all know, she could have deregistered her daughter for the period they were out of the country and re-registered her on their return, which would have avoided this unnecessarily distressing and drawn out saga; however, she was actively dissuaded from that particular course of action for reasons only known to the prosecuting authority.
 

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When the law is an ass, kick it!

Update blog post on Jackie's court case: When the law is an ass, kick it!

The bad news is that the family lost their case and both parents were punitively fined as a result of what we can only describe as a maliciously motivated attack on parental responsibility. The fact that such a disproportionate financial penalty will have a highly detrimental impact on Hazel’s “wellbeing” seems to be lost on Herefordshire Council, whose own employee had misleadingly assured Jackie prior to the trip that temporary deregistration (which would have removed the possibility of parental prosecution on non-attendance grounds) would be unnecessarily “disruptive” to Hazel’s education. Risible, or what?
“Education officer Lorraine Ralph said Turner would not have faced any legal repercussions had she de-registered Hazel from school for the three weeks, something the defendant was considering. However, the parent was warned by the officer this may disrupt her education and that there would be no guarantee a place would remain at the same school when she returned.”
In other words she was misled into believing the maximum repercussions would be penalty fines of £60 for each parent. Our previous article, Deregister or be damned, and the outcome of Jackie’s case should serve as a reminder to parents in England who are planning a term time holiday that it is always going to be a safer option to formally remove a child from school to provide “education otherwise” if they are to avoid heavy fines, a criminal record and/or prison, since delegating what is in law their parental responsibility to a council school means losing thair parental rights to decide what is in their own children’s best educational interests.
The One Show also belatedly covered Jackie’s story and the wider campaign. A video clip can be viewed on Facebook here.
Jon Platt has meanwhile set up a crowdfunding page to raise money for top legal representation as a groundswell of parents rails against a schooling system which they pay for and which is supposed to serve them, yet deliberately penalises and vilifies those who make legitimate parenting decisions in the best interests of their own children. It also disproportionately disadvantages those on limited incomes, making them even poorer, as well as those whose annual leave entitlement has to be taken at times laid down by their employers. Only a council jobsworth would have the gall to claim that a child’s “wellbeing” will be improved and her best interests served by criminalising caring parents.
So it’s official: the law is an ass, and Herefordshire Council deserves only contempt and disdain from parents across the land who are doing their level best for their children. It’s now over to the indefatigable Jon Platt to kick all the dumb asses into gear!
 
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