The law states that it is every parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child attends school regularly and on time. In 2013, the government tightened up the rules about taking holidays during term time.
It is important that children receive as full an education as possible. Even missing one week of school can impact on their development.
Head teachers can only authorise holidays taken in term time in exceptional circumstances.
If you take your child out of school for a family holiday and it’s not authorised by the head teacher you could be issued with a fine. This would be for £60 if it’s paid within 21 days but goes up to £120 if it’s paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If you still don’t pay, you could be taken to court where fines can vary, and you could end up with a criminal record.
In 2015 more than 400 parents were issued with Fixed Penalty Notices and nearly 200 were taken to court.
Head Teachers can give permission for children to be off school sometimes, for example, when a child has a medical appointment, or when they are sick, or to go on holiday in exceptional circumstances.
The government does not give advice on what count as exceptional circumstances, so head teachers have to judge for themselves. The National Association of Head Teachers describes exceptional circumstances as ‘rare, significant, unavoidable and short’.
You should think very carefully about whether your reason for taking your child out of school is unavoidable.
The Isle of Wight case
Last year, a parent on the Isle of Wight overturned a fine for taking his child out of school without authorisation.
This does not mean that the law has changed. The government is supporting the Isle of Wight in appealing against the decision, and may even change the law to make it stricter.
What you need to do
If you plan on taking your child out of school during term time, you must first speak to their school and give your reasons for doing so. The head teacher will then make an informed decision on a case-by-case basis.