We are working very hard to improve our whole school attendance. Last year we were at 92.5% for the whole year. Through hard work with the pupils and the support of our parents we look like we will improve that to 94%. While this shows we are moving in the right direction we still need to ensure the whole school attendance moves to 95%+. One way to support us achieving this is to be mindful of the fact that parents should avoid taking pupils out of school during term time for holidays. On 1 September 2013 Regulations came into force, changing the rules about term-time holidays and at The Connaught we are trying our best to follow those regulations. I recently met with Mrs Stevens our Attendance and Inclusion Manager who has alerted me to a number of parents who have requested holiday leave during term time and that has led me to write to you outlining below the Government stance on holiday leave that we must adhere to.
The regulations specify that headteachers may not grantanyleave of absence during term time unless they consider there to be"exceptional circumstances". If leave is granted, headteachers should determine the number of days a child can be away from school.
A representative from the Department for Education explained that the government has not defined the 'exceptional circumstances’ referred to in the 2013 regulations. It is for a headteacher to decide what he or she views as exceptional circumstances.
The Department for Education also specifies that schools should consider each request individually taking into account the circumstances, such as: the nature of the event for which leave is sought, the frequency of the request; whether the parent gave advanced notice; and the pupil’s attainment, attendance and ability to catch up on missed schooling.
Advice for parents on holidays in term time
The Government advice for parents on taking holidays in term time says:
- You can be fined for taking your child on holiday during term time without the school's permission.
- A headteacher will not accept as an exceptional circumstance the fact that a holiday is cheaper during term time. An exceptional circumstance is much more likely to be a one-off, unique situation... such as the illness of a close relative.
- The headteacher will also look very carefully at the child’s previous attendance record and should he or she have concerns, for example should the child’s average attendance be below 95%, it is highly unlikely that the headteacher will agree to authorise any further absence.
As a parent you have a legal duty to make sure that your child aged 5-16, if registered at a school, attends that school regularly. If taking an unauthorised term-time holiday is grounds for issuing a penalty notice according to the local authority’s code, and if the leave of absence for holiday was not authorised by the school, either the school or the local authority may issue a penalty notice. Should a penalty notice be issued the parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days.
While I want to work with you and while I accept that there are exceptional circumstances, please do not be disappointed if I refuse to authorise certain requests for leave during term time.