Can the Headteacher authorise my holiday?
The Headteacher cannot, and will not, authorize school absence solely for the purpose of a family holiday. There may be many reasons for which a family may wish to plan a holiday in term time, including restrictions at work or financial opportunities, however, these do not over ride the constraints placed on Headteachers not to authorize ‘family holidays’.
Parents commonly site the recent Court of Appeal case in the Isle of White, which overturned a Local Authority's issue of a fine. It should be noted that this DOES NOT alter the guidance and legislation for in term absence for headteachers, as this was linked to the Local Authority's right to fine. The parent lost the appeal in June 2017 and was given a conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £2000 in fines .
I want to take my child out of school at term time, and I think my reasons are exceptional.
Can the school help?
There is a discretionary power held by Headteachers to authorize absence in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Although the DfE do not define ‘exceptional’, circumstances may include, for example:
- Service personnel returning from a tour of duty abroad where it is evidenced the individual will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays.
- Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue.
- The death or terminal illness of a person close to the family.
- To attend a wedding or funeral of a person close to the family.
If a request meets the above exceptional circumstances but falls within the following times, the Headteacher must be convinced that absence from school is the only option:
1) The first half term of any academic year (applies to all pupils)
2) Year six transition day (for pupils in year six only)
3) SATs week (for pupils in year six)
4) At any time other time specified by the school which is identified to parents prior to application.
If your request is authorised, you are required to ensure your child catches up on any missed school work.
This is your responsibility and school are not obliged to provide work for your child to complete under such circumstances.
How long will I be given under exceptional circumstances?
Exceptional circumstances can only be authorized for the period in which the exceptional circumstance occurs and will not be extended beyond the minimum time required to attend. For example, the attendance at a funeral of a close family member may be authorized for the day of the event and time taken to travel. Any other time, before or after the event, will not be authorized. This includes events ‘overseas’.
What else may impact on authorisation?
The Headteacher will not authorize absences if they believe it is to the detriment of a child’s education or if they have concerns that attendance is already a concern.
I forgot to inform the school that my child would be absent, can it be authorised on return?
The Headteacher will not retrospectively authorise absence from school.
What happens if I either take absence without requesting it, or if I do not abide by the judgment of the school?
Any unauthorized absence will be recorded on your child’s attendance records which will be submitted to the Local Authority. This may result in legal proceedings against you, either through a Penalty Notice or the Magistrates’ Court.
If your request is declined, and you still take your child out of school, each person with parental consent will be issued with a £60 penalty notice for each child you have taken out of school.
If a penalty notice remains unpaid after 21 days it will increase to £120 per child per parent. If after 28 days it remains unpaid you may be summonsed to appear before Magistrates to explain why your child has unauthorized school absences and you may be liable for a fine of up to £1000.
How do I apply for ‘Exceptional Circumstances / in term absence?
If you feel you have an exceptional circumstance you must complete an ‘Exceptional Circumstances – In term absence request’ from, which will be reviewed by the Headteacher. In addition, you may also be required speak to the Headteacher.
Note: You may be requested to provide evidence to support your application.
I will not pay the fine, what can they do to me?
Simply put, the fine increases to up to £2500. If you continue not to pay, you can get up to a 3 month prison sentence.
I cannot afford a fine, how will I pay the school?
Firstly, fines are not issued by, or paid to the school – despite what you may have read on social media or in popular press. The courts issue fines and the revenue is taken by them. If you cannot pay a fine, this is a matter for the courts and is dealt with in line with any other unpaid debts to the Crown. The school has no say in this.
I have received a letter re my child’s absence. What can I do?
Crossgates Primary School is here to help you when and where we can.
- The first step is to attend the meeting and work with the school. This will be your chance to seek support if there are underlying reasons for the absences. Whilst we cannot act on your behalf, we can point you in the right direction and look to see if there is anything we can do to help.
- Recognise that there is an issue, and do all you can to reverse any absence trends. This may be easier said than done, but it cannot be ignored for your child’s sake. It is never too late.
- Act promptly if you receive notices, attendance letters and/or court notices. They will not go away.