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 Request for Leave of Absence form how the circumstances are exceptional. If this is not clear, then under the new legislation the leave cannot be authorised.
The Local Authority operates a system where any pupil will meet the criteria for legal intervention through the issue of a Fixed Penalty Notice where they have either 10 consecutive sessions * of unauthorised absence where some or all of the absence may be attributed to an unauthorised holiday in term-time (for absences from 1 September 2017); (*the school day consists of 2 sessions) or 15% unauthorised absence over a period of 6 school weeks for reasons other than unauthorised term time holiday. Any pupil at Mulbarton Primary who meets either of 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. If a fixed penalty notice fine is not paid in full within the timescale set out above, the Local Authority is required to start legal proceedings against the parent(s) in the local Magistrates’ Court for the offence of failing to ensure their child has attended school regularly.