Leave of Absence

Taking holidays in term time will affect a child’s schooling as much as any other absence and we expect parents to help us by not taking children away in school time.

There is no automatic entitlement in law to time off in school time to go on holiday.

Amendments to the 2006 regulations make clear that the Headteacher may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.


Guidance Notes for Parents

1. Parents who want the school to consider granting leave of absence in school term time should read these notes carefully. An application in writing must be sent to the Headteacher in time for the request to be considered well before the desired period of absence. Please contact the school office to arrange an appointment with the Headteacher to discuss this leave of absence request. Parents are strongly advised not to finalise any booking arrangements before receiving the school’s decision regarding their request. Head teachers cannot authorise any leave of absence unless the request is received before the period of absence begins.

2. The Department for Education makes it clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. Head teachers now also determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.

3. There is no automatic right to any leave in term time.

4. Cheshire East Council understands the challenges that some parents face when booking holidays particularly during school holidays. However, we believe that, in order to ensure children receive the best education and prospects, that they should be in school during term time.

5. Each case will be considered individually and on its own merits. Parents need, therefore, to consider very carefully before making any request for leave of absence. In considering a request, the school will take account of the following factors which may help to reach a decision: -

• the exceptional circumstances stated that have given rise to the request

• time of the academic year when the leave has been requested

• duration of the absence – number of school days being missed

• the stage of the child’s education and progress and the effects of the requested absence on both elements

• the child’s current attendance and punctuality rate and overall attendance pattern

• exceptional term time leave requested/taken in previous academic years for a similar purpose

• whether the parent made the request in advance

• pupils due to take any statutory testing arrangements (KS2 SATS, Y1 Phonics and KS1 SATs) will not normally be granted leave of absence.

• Whether parent/carers have considered limiting the amount of time the child would be absent from school e.g. wrapping around school holiday

• Have alternative care arrangements been considered by the parent/carer to limit the time away from school

• Impact on any interventions, assessments or referrals being undertaken with the child or family e.g. family support, social care assessments, CAMHS, SEN

• The impact that the absence will have on the child.


Examples of circumstances NOT considered as exceptional

• Holidays abroad for the purpose of visiting a sick relative, excepting where that person is seriously ill. Medical evidence may be requested.

• Holidays taken in term time due to lower cost/parental work commitments.


6. Where parents have children in more than one school a separate request must be made to each school. The head teacher of each school will make their own decision based on the factors relating to the child at their school. However head teachers may choose to liaise with each other as part of their decision-making process.

7. Should the school decide to grant leave of absence, but the child does not return to school at the time s/he was expected to (i.e. following the expiry of the granted leave of absence period) and no information is available to the school to explain/justify the continuing absence this absence will be recorded as unauthorised.

8. Should the school decide not to grant leave of absence and parents still take their child out of school, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised. This action may be subject to a Penalty Notice fine of £60 per parent* per child. This fine will increase to £120 if not paid within 21 days. Failure to pay the £120 fine within the period 22 to 28 days may lead to Court proceedings.

9. The Local Authority will continue to monitor all school absences during term time and support head teachers in challenging parents who ignore the law.

* Generally the DfE states that parents include all those with day to day responsibility for a child.

‘the Council is reviewing its practice with regards to the issuing of Penalty Notices for term time holiday absence as a matter of priority and is seeking urgent guidance from the DfE.’


Examples of any exceptional circumstances where leave may be granted during term time are as follows:

  • If a parent can evidence that they will not be in receipt of any leave in the near future that coincides with school holidays

  • Where an absence from school is recommended by a health professional as part of a parent or child’s rehabilitation from a medical or emotional issue.

  • The death or terminal illness of a close relative, only if Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional;
  • Out of school programmes such as music, arts or sport operating at a high standard of achievement. Documentary evidence of this event will be required.
  • Religious observance – The Education Act 1996 S444(3) (c), states ‘’on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which his/her parent belongs’’;
  • To attend a wedding or funeral of a close relative if the Headteacher is satisfied that the circumstances are truly exceptional; Leave should only be authorised for this purpose when a Headteacher is satisfied that there is a persuasive reason for holding the wedding during term time and there WILL be an onus on parents to show clear evidence that this absence is absolutely an exceptional circumstance. In difficult family situations the Headteacher may use his/her discretion in granting leave and each case should be addressed on its individual merits, taking into account the overall welfare of the child.

Where there are exceptional and unforeseen circumstances that fall outside of the above, the Headteacher agrees to consult with the governing body prior to any authorisation being given to the parent.

Evidence would be required in each case.


If a request meets the above exceptional circumstances but falls within the following times, the Headteacher must be convinced that absence from school is the only option:

1) The first half term of any academic year (applies to all pupils).

2) Year six transition day (for pupils in year six).

3) Year six SATs week (for pupils in year six).




St Gabriel's Catholic Primary School, Well Lane, Alsager, Stoke-on-Trent ST7 2PG