Term Time Holidays
I’m sure your school, like ours won’t be keen on term time absence. They will have let you know the importance of attendance and the fact that there are 13 weeks of school holidays a year which is all true.
Sometimes circumstances mean that absence during term time can’t be helped (not just term time holidays) and you need to take your child out of school for whatever reason.
Sometimes your request will be authorised, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes parents are fined, sometimes they’re prosecuted and sometimes nothing happens at all.
Hopefully this article gives you some tips if you find yourself in the situation where your child needs to be absent during term time for something other than sickness or a medical appointment because nobody wants a term time holiday fine.
Don’t call in sick when they’re not sick!
Schools have heard it all before, they can see patterns when parents always take their children out on birthdays or just before/after school holidays. Teachers & TAs can spot when a child is excitable about going on holiday or has just come back, other parents sometimes mention things in the playground that end up getting back to unimpressed school staff. If they are suspicious, they can ask you to provide evidence of illness which isn’t easy to provide when it’s not true. It is the parent’s responsibility to prove that the absence was genuine not the school’s responsibility to prove that you were actually on holiday! Lying to school will generally break down your relationship with them, and you may find you end up with a fine or worse plus further requests for evidence even when your child genuinely is ill.
Don’t just take your children out of school without warning school.
Even if you don’t think school will authorise the absence, it is still advisable to let them know in writing (email is great as you have evidence of when it was sent) and let them know of any circumstances why you believe it should be approved. Taking your child out of school without telling them won’t win you any favour and may mean that they’re more likely to take action against you.
What you can do:
ALWAYS check your Local Authorities Attendance Policy. Sometimes this will be on your school’s website. If it isn’t obvious there should be a link to it on your council’s website.
If you can’t find the policy, try Google searching ‘Attendance Policy’ followed by the name of your council. For example in Bournemouth where we are, I search ‘Attendance Policy BCP council’ which takes me here…. www.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/Schools-and-learning/At-school/School-attendance
You are looking for a paragraph titled something along the lines of ‘Circumstances where we will issue a fine’ or links titled School attendance code of conduct or both!
An unauthorised absence does not always mean fine or prosecution. Some councils have zero tolerance and will fine every time or even prosecute on a first offence. Fines are sent to everyone with parental responsibility, even partners or step parents that aren’t biologically related so you can receive multiple fines for one child.
Other Local Authorities are more lenient and will only fine once your child has been absent for 10 sessions/ 5 days so in theory, a family could take their child out of school for 4 days, the absence isn’t authorised but no action is taken other than a note of the absence which could be refered to if you take them out of school again.
The important thing is that you always check what the rules are for your local area, and if you’re in any doubt what they’ll do, ask the school. Even if you’re worried they won’t give you the answer you want, at least you will know and can make a decision about what you want to do.
If you’d like to check the school holiday dates for the BCP, Dorset or Hampshire Council’s click HERE