Leave of Absence
Parents have no right to remove their children from school for the purpose of a holiday.
Parents may request permission for an absence in exceptional circumstances.
The Department of Education has removed all reference to holidays from the registration regulations and requires head teachers to restrict leave of absence to exceptional circumstances only. No direct guidance is given to this but the inference is clearly that holidays should not normally be considered exceptional.
Head teachers should require proof of the exceptional nature of any requests and also bear in mind the elaborate nature of some requests. Parents who make no request may be subject to fixed penalty notices.
Exceptional Leave of absence
Each request for leave of absence should be considered on its own merits, bearing in mind elements such as family crisis or special occasions. This does not include economic factors or convenience.
There is no reason why head teachers should authorise long absences for family occasions such as weddings, baptisms, funerals etc. Such occasions are not an opportunity to tack on a holiday. The cost issue is a matter for families, not the school.
Many families request leave of absence to visit sick relatives abroad. While small proportions of these situations may be emergencies, many cases are in respect of chronically-ill relatives who can be visited in the school holidays. Many schools keep a record of requests to guard against parents cynically playing on a natural wish to be sympathetic. "Emergency" situations which have elements of forward planning should be subject to discussion.
The essential points are:
- Parents must seek leave of absence from the Head Teacher.
- Parents must be made aware of this requirement in the school's attendance policy.
- Each request for leave must be assessed on its own merits.
- The school's policy will make it clear that families leaving the country without requesting leave of failing to return on an agreed date may incur fixed penalty notices.
- Leave of absence for any child taking tests in Year 2 will not be given other than in an emergency.
In assessing a request, head teachers must consider the
- Impact on a child's progress, especially in terms of SEN and attendance record.
- Compassionate grounds.
- Previous applications: frequency and length.
- Current and previous attendance records.
An authorised period of leave from school of up to ten session is coded H, and is authorised absence. In the event that an agreed absence continues without good cause beyond the period agree, the unauthorised element is coded G, (unauthorised absence), and can incur a Fixed-penalty Notice for each parent.
All the above are absences. Children enrolled temporarily in a UK school, are recorded as D in the register. D is neither an attendance nor an absence, statistically, to avoid double-accounting.
Schools will ensure that records of leave are maintained in order to monitor their effect on school attendance levels. Records of authorisations or refusals are kept on file for future reference in the event of complaint, or indeed , further requests.