The following is intended to give brief guidance and is an extract from DfE guidance and our own Attendance Policy. Please follow the links for more information.
The September 2013 amendments to the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 removed a head teacher’s discretion to grant a leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday. The amendments make clear that head teachers may not grant leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. A family holiday is not an exceptional circumstance. Head teachers must not authorise absence if they believe it is to the detriment of a child’s education. Evidence may be requested to support a leave of absence request e.g. a wedding invitation and travel reservations to support a wedding abroad.
All applications for leave must be made in writing to the school, detailing the exceptional circumstances. You can download a form here: pdf Application for Leave of Absence -Jan 14
If you do not apply for leave of absence in advance, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised. If your child is away for longer than was agreed, any extra time is recorded as unauthorised.
It is expected, where a school has not agreed to authorise the absence for a term time holiday, there will have been written contact with the family to ensure that they are fully aware of the reason(s) why it has not been agreed and that parents are aware of the possibility of a penalty notice being issued which could lead to prosecution for non-attendance if they fail to pay.
The Local Authority expects schools to apply for a penalty notice following an unauthorised term time holiday within two weeks after the pupil’s return to school following the unauthorised holiday. It is the Education Welfare Service Legal Intervention Panel who will make the decision on whether to issue a penalty notice, based on the evidence supplied by the school. See the following link for more information: Attendance Policy
Every half day absence has to be classified by the school (not by parents) as either AUTHORISED or UNAUTHORISED. This is why information about the cause of each absence is always required, preferably in writing to the school. Authorised absences are mornings or afternoons away from school for a reason such as genuine illness or other unavoidable causes. Unauthorised absences are those which the school does not consider reasonable and for which an unauthorised mark has been given. These include parents keeping children off school unnecessarily, absences which have never been properly explained and children who arrive at school too late to get a mark. Parents need to consider, carefully, whether a child’s illness is significant enough to warrant staying away from school. Some guidance is set out in the following leaflets and also in the link to Public Health England (under our useful links tab): pdf Absence Leaflet pdf and Winter illnesses Guide