Leave of absence during school term time
Legislation does not give any entitlement to parents to take their child on holiday during term time. Any application for leave must be in exceptional circumstances and the Headteacher must be satisfied that the circumstances warrant the granting of leave.
By law, parents whose children are of compulsory school age and registered at school are responsible for ensuring that their children attend school regularly. If they fail to do this they are guilty of an offence and will be given a penalty notice or prosecuted under section 444 of the Education Act 1996.
Absence due to unauthorised leave taken during term time is a significant issue for all Bradford schools. Children in Bradford are twice as likely to be absent due to unauthorised leave during term time than the average child in England.
Absence due to unauthorised leave during term time covers a variety of reasons for absence, including holidays during term time and travel to other countries to visit family and attend celebrations and events. Currently schools can request a penalty notice from Bradford Council for each child, and each parent, where unauthorised leave takes place. Despite this, absence due to unauthorised leave during term time continues to take place, with a significant number of families taking more than one period of absence during an academic year, or taking a period of leave of four weeks or more.
A decision has been made by Bradford Council to change their approach to situations where families take two or more periods of unauthorised leave in a 12-month period, or when a period of four or more weeks of leave is taken. In these instances, Bradford Council will utilise the option to start legal proceedings via the magistrates’ court, instead of issuing a penalty notice. This means that parents may be liable to receive a significantly higher fine (up to £2,500 per child, per parent) if found guilty, as well as receive a criminal record, which may be reportable to employers (for example, via a DBS Check). In rare circumstances, magistrates can consider a custodial sentence for up to 3 months. This change will come into force from 1st April 2023.
Requests for leave during term time are never taken lightly and we will always consider the social, emotional and cultural reasons for the leave, whether the leave is exceptional, as well as your child’s overall level of attendance, academic attainment and the impact any leave may have on your child’s learning during their time away.
Parents will be fined for taking their child on holiday during term time without consent from the school.
It will be for schools to define 'exceptional circumstances' and you will receive written notification of the decision made.
Headteacher's will determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
Penalty Notices for unauthorised school absences
Penalty Notices will be issued:
- If parents have not sought permission from the Headteacher before taking their child out of school for a holiday in term-time;
- If the Headteacher has refused the request but the absence occurs anyway;
- If a pupil has not returned to school by the agreed date with no satisfactory explanation and the pupil remains on the roll of the school.
Should the Penalty Notice not be paid, the Bradford Children's Services will submit the case for prosecution in the magistrate's court.
Penalty notices (fines) will also be issued to each parent who fails to ensure their children's regular attendance at school or fails to ensure that their excluded child is not in a public place during the first five days of exclusion.
Parents must, from 1 September 2013, pay £60 within 21 days or £120 within 28 days. This brings attendance penalty notices into line with other types of penalty notices and allows local authorities to act faster on prosecutions
We must also remind parents that school starts at 8.40am each day. Children must arrive at school at least 5 minutes before the start of the school day, wearing their correct school uniform.
Registers close at 8.45am. Any child who arrives in school after this time will be given a late mark.
For children who are persistently late (even if it is only 5/10 minutes each day) then the Headteacher will contact the parents/carers to obtain the reasons why. This may involve an interview with the Headteacher.
A child who arrives in school after 9:15am will be issued with an absent mark for the morning session. This of course will then affect the child's attendance figure, which will then result in the above penalty notice procedure been followed.
If a child needs to attend a medical appointment, parents should always try to make this outside of the school day, or make it for mid morning so that children can be given their registration mark at the start of the school day, and be back in school before lunch.