“Durham County Council is committed to maximising the potential of every child in County Durham. I know that you too want the very best for your child and good, consistent attendance at school is crucial to give your child the best chance of success. We need your support in ensuring that holidays are not taken in school time so that your child has the very best opportunity to succeed.” – Corporate Director of Children and Young People’s Services
The Department for Education has made amendments to the regulations which previously allowed Headteachers the discretion to grant holidays taken during term time.
The new regulations came into force from 1st September 2013 and we have revised our school policy based upon this new government legislation which states, in summary, 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 Headteacher 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 Headteacher, who will inform you of his/her decision prior to booking your holiday.
- If a request for leave is not authorised by the Headteacher and the pupil goes on holiday, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised, which then stays on a child’s permanent record.
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 1 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 and whom can be traced. This means that both the Father and Mother of a child will receive separate fines, under the new regulations, and that each parent will incur a fine for each child.
Guidance states that ultimately it is for the Headteacher to decide if the circumstances are ‘exceptional’, some examples of which are as follows:
- ‘Exceptional’ circumstances are much more likely to be unique and/or ‘one-off’ situations eg: due to a parent’s work/employment commitments. NB: Proof may be required from an employer in such circumstances.
- Where there has been a trauma or bereavement in the family or where the opportunity for such a holiday is highly unlikely to arise in the future.
As a result of this legislation, Headteachers would not be expected to deem any term time holiday as ‘exceptional’ and the fact that a holiday is cheaper during term time is unlikely to be considered as ‘exceptional circumstances’. Therefore any decision to grant leave will be made by our attendance panel using the following criteria:
- The individual circumstances as to why the holiday is being requested in term time
- The child’s attendance record and percentage of absences
- The age of the child and the time of year proposed for the holiday
- The child’s attainment and progress
Our holiday request forms have been changed in line with the regulations and when a parent/carer wishes to apply to take their child out of school during term time they must now complete a leave of absence form which should be submitted to the school for approval prior to booking the holiday.
It is important to carefully consider the implications of taking your child out of school during term time and the effect that this may have on their education.
Any request for leave during the first 2 weeks in September will not be authorised as this is an important time in a child’s education as they are settling into a new school/class. Similarly, leave will not be authorised for Year 6 pupils during the 2 weeks before SAT’s and during the week of SAT’s.
Further information and guidance can be found on the DfE website.
View the Leave of Absence Request form and school holiday information below:
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