Absence from school - leave in term time

Under the Education (Pupil Registration) Regulations 2006 (amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, head teachers have the authority/discretion to authorise absence of a pupil due to exceptional circumstances only. It is not a parental right to take leave during term time, the decision lies solely with the head teacher of the registered school. Parents must make a request for leave during term time giving the exceptional circumstances for the request and it is at the head teacher’s discretion to determine whether that request should be granted.

The head teacher must use their discretion, sparingly, and each request must be judged on a case-by-case basis. Head teachers should not fetter their discretion by applying policies (ie. blanket bans) which prevent assessment of each application on its individual merits. In the majority of cases, exceptional circumstances will be deemed to be emergency situation. The head teacher in making a decision whether to grant leave during term time should consider all the circumstances surrounding the request.

Where the child’s attendance is below 95% the school should only authorise term time absences in exceptional circumstances. If a child has been genuinely ill or had authorised absences other than for leave in term time however, these factor should be taken into account when considering an application.

Parent/carers should be advised about the school’s policy in relation to leave during term-time The school should also implement procedures where parents/carers must apply for permission for a term-time absence in advance, wherever possible, as it is not good practice to grant permission retrospectively. All requests should be made within an appropriate timeline and all decisions recorded. Schools can make make use of the standard leave request form (Appendix A). Schools should inform parents/carers of the process for applying for exceptional leave in term-time through the usual communication channels.

The following guidelines are suggested for considering applications for leave during term time:

  • any parent requiring an absence for their child, for an exceptional reason other than for the purpose of a holiday, should make their application in writing at least two weeks prior to the time they wish to have leave
  • the school should invite parents in to discuss the reasons for the application, especially when the reasons are unclear
  • the school should reply to all applications in writing stating whether or not the absence has been agreed by the school within 5 days of receiving the application
  • the reason for not authorising a request must be clearly stated and evidence given If leave is granted, the length of authorised absence must be clearly stated and dates included so that the parent is informed of what date the pupil should be back in school. The school must indicate the consequences should these times not be adhered to, including the possibility that the parent may receive a PN
  • changes to this process should only be made in exceptional circumstances (i.e. emergencies)

Should a child fail to return to school following a period of leave, the school may, with the agreement of the LA, and following all statutory checks, delete from roll a pupil who meets the following conditions:

i. The child must have been granted leave of absence for an exceptional circumstance and

ii. Failed to attend for a period of ten days immediately following the date of which he/she was due to return and

iii. The school does not have reasonable grounds to believe that he/she is unable to attend school by reason of sickness or other unavoidable cause.

iv. The school and LA must have failed, after reasonable enquiry, to ascertain their whereabouts.

(from Regulation 8(f) Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2013).

If a pupil does not meet all of the above conditions he/she may not be legally removed from the school roll. Please contact the ACE team for further advice on this matter.