Holiday vs Education?

There is no doubt the price of a holiday in school holiday time can be much higher than in term-time, the attraction to take a holiday in term-time can be tempting. So, what can happen if you do this?

The rules about term-time holidays changed in 2013, there is no entitlement for holidays. In England it is only the Head Teacher that can authorise a holiday in term-time, and only when there are exceptional circumstances.

What happens if we decide to go without the permission of the Head Teacher?

The absence will be marked as unauthorised (code G) with the Head Teacher requesting to the Local Authority (LA) for a fine (penalty notice) to be issued. The fine is £60 per parent per child (each LA has a code of conduct that stipulates their position, so check with your LA).

NB. The penalty notice gives Head Teachers an alternative to prosecution, which is a much higher penalty.

What happens if I don’t pay?

The fine doubles to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days of the fine being issued.  If you fail to pay within 28 days you could be taken to court under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996.

Why is this?

The law regarding irregular school attendance is one of strict liability.  If a child of compulsory school age registered at a school fails to regularly attend their parent(s) are guilty of an offence.  Following the Isle of Wight v Platt case in the Supreme Court in 2017, Justice Lady Hale defined irregular attendance as being one single session of unauthorised absence.

Here are some things to consider about term-time absence:

  • the impact of absence on your child’s educational progress;
  • your child could miss out on co-curricular activities and clubs;
  • they could miss out on pastoral and/or learning support;
  • miss time with school friends.

If you decide to go ahead with leave of absence:

  • You must put your request in writing to the Head Teacher and in advance of your intended leave – check the specifics with your school.
  • It is only the Head Teacher that can sanction a leave of absence and you must have exceptional circumstances.
  • If you go on a holiday without the authorisation of the Head Teacher, you may be liable to pay a fine and/or be prosecuted for irregular attendance – you could find yourself with a criminal record.

Department for Education guidance on absence and attendance codes: