Requesting term time absence
Guidance and legislation for headteachers, issued by the Department for Education (DfE), on 'in term holidays' were changed in 2013.
Parents are legally responsible for ensuring their children receive education in accordance with section 7 of the Education Act 1996 and if on a school roll that they regularly attend school.
Can the Headteacher authorize my holiday?
The Headteacher cannot, and will not, authorize school absence solely for the purpose of a family holiday. There may be many reasons for which a family may wish to plan a holiday in term time, including restrictions at work or financial opportunities, however, these do not over ride the constraints placed on Headteachers not to authorize ‘family holidays’.
Parent commonly site the recent Court of Appeal case in the Isle of White, which overturned a Local Authority's issue of a fine. It should be noted that this DOES NOT alter the guidance and legislation for in term absence for headteachers, as the case reviewed questioned the right of the Local Authority to fine under that specific circumstance. The appeal was upheld.
I want to take my child out of school at term time, and I think my reasons are exceptional. Can the school help?
There is a discretionary power held by Headteachers to authorize absence in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Although the DfE do not define ‘exceptional’, circumstances may include, for example:
Please note: a family holiday is not an exceptional circumstance. We advise that you do not plan for your child to be absent from school without gaining prior agreement from their school first.
If a request meets the above exceptional circumstances but falls within the following times, the Headteacher must be convinced that absence from school is the only option:
1) The first half term of any academic year (applies to all pupils)
2) Year six transition day (for pupils in year six only)
3) SATs week (for pupils in year six)
4) At any time other time specified by the school which is identified to parents prior to application.
NOTE: Attendance records taken for a pupil over a 12 month rolling period, that falls below 95%, may result in an absence request being refused.
How long will I be given under exceptional circumstances?
Exceptional circumstances can only be authorized for the period in which the exceptional circumstance occurs and will not be extended beyond the minimum time required to attend. For example, the attendance at a funeral of a close family member may be authorized for the day of the event and time taken to travel. Any other time, before or after the event, will not be authorized. This includes events ‘overseas’.
What else may impact on authorization?
The Headteacher will not authorize absences if they believe it is to the detriment of a child’s education or if they have concerns that attendance is already a concern.
I forgot to inform the school that my child would be absent, can it be authorized on return?
The Headteacher will not retrospectively authorize absence from school.
What else do I need to know?
If your request is authorized, you are required to ensure your child catches up on any missed school work.
This is your responsibility and school are not obliged to provide work for your child to complete under such circumstances
What happens if I either take absence without requesting it, or if I do not abide by the judgment of the school?
Any unauthorized absence will be recorded on your child’s attendance records which will be submitted to the Local Authority. This may result in legal proceedings against you, either through a Penalty Notice or the Magistrates’ Court.
If your request is declined, and you still take your child out of school, each parent within your household will be issued with a £60 penalty notice for each child you have taken out of school.
If a penalty notice remains unpaid after 21 days it will increase to £120. If after 28 days it remains unpaid you may be summonsed to appear before Magistrates to explain why your child has unauthorized school absences and you may be liable for a fine of up to £1000.
How do I apply for ‘Exceptional Circumstances / in term absence?
If you feel you have an exceptional circumstance you must complete an ‘Exceptional Circumstances – In term absence request’ from, which will be reviewed by the Headteacher. In addition, you may also be required speak to the Headteacher.
Note: You may be requested to provide evidence to support your application.