Term Time Leave
Changes to Holidays in Term Time
Following many statements regarding school attendance by the Secretary of State, the Government is now introducing some significant changes to attendance regulations for children at school from this September. The Department for Education has made amendments to the regulations which previously allowed Head Teachers the discretion to grant holidays taken during term time. The new regulations, which came into force from the 1st September 2013, states that:
- The current law does not give parents any entitlement to take their children out of school for a holiday during term time
- Any application for leave must only be in ‘exceptional’ circumstances and the Head Teacher must be satisfied that the circumstances are ‘exceptional’ and warrant the granting of leave
- In ‘exceptional’ circumstances, a request for absence must be made in advance to the Head Teacher who will inform you of his/her decision prior to booking your holiday
- If a request for leave is not authorised by the Head Teacher and the child goes on holiday, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
We are required by law to report unauthorised absences to the Local Authority, who may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice, which means a parent may be fined by the Education Welfare Service. The regulations do stipulate that fixed penalty fines will be issued and from the 1st September 2013 parents must pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. I must also make parents aware that due to equalities legislation, fixed penalty notices will now be issued to all parents who have parental responsibility. This means that, under the new regulations, both Mother and Father of a child will receive separate fines and that each parent will incur a fine for each child. Please be aware that the proceeds from fixed penalty fines DO NOT go to the school.
Guidance states that ultimately it is for the Head Teacher to decide if the circumstances are ‘exceptional’. The Local Authority has suggested that Families of Schools work together to decide what this means. I met last week with the Tapton Family of Schools, which includes our link feeder junior school, to agree what ‘exceptional’ means. Clearly genuine ‘exceptional’ circumstances may occur but the normality will be that requests will be refused. Parent/carers who wish to apply to take their child out of school during term time must still complete a leave of absence form which should be submitted to the school for approval prior to booking the holiday. Each application will be considered case by case.
I ask that you respect these new regulations under which we must now work, and that if you do need to take your child out of school during term time, you make very clear in your request how the circumstances are exceptional.
I anticipate the strength of feeling this information will generate, firstly because of the short notice by which it has been introduced by the Government and the implications arising from it. I can assure you that I fully appreciate and completely understand that this may cause difficulties for some families. However, irrespective of my own personal feelings, schools are required to operate within Government regulations and we have had no option but to change our policies and procedures accordingly.
Further information and guidance can be found on the DfE website:
Many thanks for your continuing support.
Catherine Timbers Head Teacher