Parents must avoid taking holidays in term time. Absence from school can seriously impact on student learning. Whilst there may be occasions when a pupil is unable to attend school e.g. due to illness, all other absences should therefore be kept to a minimum and if at all possible avoided.
The Headteacher is not able to authorise holidays in term time for any pupil.
Regulations do, however, permit a Headteacher to agree to a request from a parent for a pupil to be granted ‘leave of absence’. Leave of absence can be granted in special or exceptional circumstances only.
The regulations make it quite clear, however, that parents do not have the right or an entitlement to take a child out of school for the purposes of a family holiday during term time.
What are ‘special’ and ‘exceptional circumstances’?
The fact a holiday is cheaper during term time will not be considered as ‘special’ or ‘exceptional circumstances’. ‘Special’ or ‘exceptional’ circumstances are unique and/or one-off situations e.g. due to a parent’s work/employment commitments, where there has been a trauma or bereavement in the family or where the opportunity for such a leave is unlikely to arise in the future. Ultimately, however, it is for the Headteacher to decide if the circumstances are ‘special’ or ‘exceptional’.
Fact: Hampshire County Council Children’s Services Department will always support a head teacher’s decision to refuse a request for leave of absence for a family holiday during term time.
If my request is approved
If the request is approved by the Headteacher, the pupil’s absence will be recorded as ‘authorised’ for the agreed period of absence. If the pupil does not return to school following the agreed period of ‘authorised absence’ however, unless the extended period of absence is due to some ‘unavoidable’ cause e.g. illness, the extended period of absence will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’.
If my request is not approved
If the request is not approved by the Headteacher and the parent proceeds to take the pupil out of school for a family holiday, all of the absence during this period will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’.
What happens if the absence is ‘unauthorised’?
Where a pupil has irregular attendance and the absences are unauthorised, the parents are committing an offence and could either be issued with a Penalty Notice or prosecuted under the Education Act, 1996.
What happens if my family has to make an extended visit overseas?
How a pupil’s absence is recorded in such circumstances is up to the Headteacher. This may be considered as approved leave of absence and recorded either as an extended family holiday or as some other form of ‘authorised’ absence. Alternatively, the Headteacher may not approve the absence and therefore record it as ‘unauthorised’. If the absence is recorded as ‘unauthorised’, the pupil’s name may, depending upon the period of absence, be removed from the school register. In such situations there is no guarantee that a place will still be available at that school upon the pupil’s return.
A holiday application form can be downloaded from the following link.