Holidays: term-time arrangements

The Government has issued guidance to headteachers, which indicates that they can only grant leave of absence for holidays in exceptional cases. The law requires that school staff consider the academic and educational needs of the child before agreeing to such requests. If it appears that the proposed absence will have implications for the child's future learning or educational welfare, permission cannot be granted.

See school term dates.

Parents considerations

Before taking your child out of school during term time, it is essential you give careful consideration to possible consequences.

Children out of school for holidays may miss significant learning opportunities. This affects subsequent understanding of the subject and the ability to progress and participate in the future.

In some cases such absence disrupts friendship patterns with classmates and peers and thus leaves pupils feeling isolated and vulnerable on their return.

Pupils who have various forms of special needs provision may find extended periods of absence particularly disruptive to future learning and the re-establishment of a stable and consistent learning regime.

The legal position

Parents of children who are registered pupils at a school have a legal duty to ensure they attend regularly. The Government has issued guidance to headteachers, which indicates that they should only grant leave of absence for holidays in exceptional cases.

The law requires that school staff consider the academic and educational needs of the child before agreeing to such requests. If it appears that the proposed absence will have implications for the child's future learning, permission cannot be granted.

If parents take holidays in term time without prior permission, headteachers are instructed to mark absence as unauthorised in school registers and pupil records. Such absence may render parents liable to prosecution.

In exceptional circumstances permission for holidays may be granted for a limited period. If a pupil fails to return on the agreed date, they can be removed from the school roll.

The responsibilities of headteachers

Before granting leave of absence the headteacher must consider the effect on the child's learning and educational progress. The decision will be influenced by:

  • the child's age;
  • the duration of leave;
  • the child's educational ability and attainment;
  • the educational outcomes and consequences.

Headteachers are unlikely to be able to grant leave when pupils are:

  • preparing or engaged in Standard Assessment Tests (SATs)
  • during transition years (Year 6 Primary, Year 7 Secondary);
  • undertaking course work for GCSE (Years 10 and 11).

Further questions

If you have any further questions please contact your local Education Welfare Service