From September 2013 the Government introduced some significant changes to attendance regulations for pupils at school, particularly in relation to term-time family holidays. The amendments make clear that headteachers, “may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances”.
There is, therefore, no entitlement to any leave of absence for a holiday during term time. Schools are in session for 38 weeks per year, so there are opportunities to take children on holiday during the remaining 14 weeks.
The government has not defined the ‘exceptional circumstances’ referred to in the 2013 regulations. These must be determined by individual headteachers.
Examples of what might be considered as such could include:
• Service personnel returning from / scheduled to embark on a tour of duty abroad.
• When it is company policy for an employee to take leave at a specified time in the year and there is no opportunity for a family holiday in school holidays. This must be supported by documentary evidence from the organisation.
• Where a period of leave has been recommended as part of a parent’s or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue. Evidence may be requested from qualified professionals, such as a doctor.
• Attendance at the wedding / funeral of a close family member.
• When a family needs to spend time together to support each other during or after a major crisis.
Other times when permission would be given would be for educational activities such as music exams or workshops, religious observance or sporting competitions.
The school will not accept as an exceptional circumstance the fact that a holiday is cheaper during term time, or for birthday treats.
Applications for leave of absence will be looked at on a case by case basis.
The headteacher will also look very carefully at the child’s previous attendance record and, should there be concerns, for example the child’s average attendance is below 95%, it is highly unlikely that any further absence will be authorised.
If you do need to take your child out of school during term time, please respect these new regulations under which we must now work and make very clear on the ‘Leave of Absence’ form how the circumstances are exceptional. If this is not clear, then under the new legislation the leave cannot be authorised.
In addition to this new legislation there are also new regulations about the potential imposition (by the Local Authority) of penalty fines for parents and carers taking children out of school in unauthorised circumstances. Any pupil whose attendance is 85% or less with at least 15% unauthorised absence over a six week period, or has had 10 consecutive sessions (5 days) of unauthorised absence, will meet the criteria for legal intervention. Starting from 1st September 2014, any pupil who meets the criteria will be referred to the Local Authority for action to be considered. If a fixed penalty notice is issued, it is a fine of £60 per parent per child, which must be paid in one payment, within 21 days. If unpaid, a further invoice for £60 per parent per child would be issued, to be paid within 28 days. Failure to pay the total amount within the timescale will result in legal action being taken.
The Southern Area Attendance Team will continue to direct and support the school in promoting and monitoring attendance.
Pupils are only in school for 190 days each year.
There are 175 other days for holidays and other activities<br/>80% attendance represents 1 day off a week
90% attendance represents 1 day off per fortnight.