The New Cost of Term Time Holidays
On 1 September 2013 a new set of regulations will come into effect opening up the potential for parents who take holidays during term time to face fines for removing their children from school.
Before 1 September the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 provided that an attendance register had to be taken in both the morning and afternoon of each school session. When the register is taken every pupil on the register must be marked either as present, absent, attending an approved educational activity or unable to attend due to exceptional circumstances. Where a child was absent the absence could either be authorised or unauthorised. Authorised absences include things such as being absent due to sickness or the attendance of a religious event as well as where a child has been granted a leave of absence.
When children went on holiday during term time they were normally granted a leave of absence provided that their parents had made an application for a leave of absence in advance and that there were special circumstances to allow the application to be approved by the headteacher. Where the absence was more than ten school days there needed to be exceptional circumstances in order to authorise the absence.
Following the implementation of the 2013 Amendment Regulations all references to holidays as a form of leave of absence have been removed from the 2006 regulations. The effect of this is that it will no longer be possible for headteachers to approve absence from school for term time holidays as an exceptional circumstance.
It is anticipated that the result of this change is that more parents will face fines for removing their children from education in order to take holidays which is likely to cause significant disruption to the school-parent relationship. Schools should have notified parents of this change in advance and should emphasise that the alteration to the rules on term time holidays is not something which the individual schools are responsible for. Schools are obliged to make returns to the Local Education Authority notifying them of each pupil who has had an unauthorised absence of ten continuous school days or more. Feedback received from schools and academies so far is that parents are unhappy about this change but due to the level of fine are saying they will still consider taking their children out of school for family holidays.
It has yet to be seen whether or not the proposed changes will increase the number of fines issued by the Local Education Authorities or indeed whether pupil absence during term time will in fact reduce. Either way it is likely to cause considerable aggravation to both schools and parents both trying to balance the complicated issues of ensuring pupils get the best education possible whilst still allowing for affordable family holidays.
About the author
Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.
Published: Wednesday 28th August 2013