School attendance

Holidays in term time

You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.

You can only do this if:

  • you make an application to the head teacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with)
  • there are exceptional circumstances

It’s up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted.

Parents do not have a legal right to take their children out of school in order to go on holiday.

Schools can authorise absence for a family holiday if:

  • there are exceptional circumstances
  • the request is made in advance by the parent with whom the child normally lives

If you take your child out of school for a family holiday without the school’s prior authorisation, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and noted in your child’s school records.

If your child goes on an authorised family holiday, yet fails to return by the agreed date any extra time absent from school will be counted as unauthorised.

If your child fails to return within 10 days of the expected date of return, then the school may remove your child from the school role and notify the council accordingly.

If you child is absent from school on a family holiday without authorisation the school may ask the council to serve a Penalty Notice. This Penalty Notice is a fine of £60 which, if not paid within 21 days, rises to £120. If you are issued with a Penalty Notice and you fail to pay it within 28 days you will be prosecuted in court.

How schools deal with requests

If you do make a request for leave to go on a family holiday during term time in responding to your request schools will consider:

  • whether there are any exceptional circumstances for the request
  • your child’s previous attendance request
  • the time of year when the holiday is to be taken
  • how long the holiday is for
  • the likely disruption the holiday might cause to your child’s education
  • whether similar requests have been made in the past

Schools will not consider the following to be exceptional circumstances:

  • the availability of cheap holidays
  • the availability of the desired accommodation
  • adverse weather during the school holiday period
  • an overlap at the beginning or end of the school term

You should avoid, if at all possible, making a request for a family holiday during term time. You should especially avoid requesting leave:

  • close to or during exams / tests
  • when important work / activity which cannot be repeated is taking place
  • during the first week of term or when your child is transferring from one phase to another
  • during the first year in a new school

If this is unavoidable, you should make your request as early as possible before the time of the holiday, but you should not expect the school to grant your request for leave unless the circumstances are exceptional.

See also: non-school attendance

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