New legislation signals an end to holidays in term time

In a push to improve pupil attendance levels across the country, new government legislation from 1 September 2013 means that headteachers will no longer be able authorise any requests for children to be taken out of school to go on holiday during term time.

Previously, schools were able to authorise up to 10 days of leave from school. However, the new law states that requests for leave can only be granted in exceptional circumstances, and family holidays do not fall into this category. Any requests for leave must also be made to the school in advance, as the Department for Education (DfE) has told schools that they cannot authorise any absences after they have been taken.

Nationally, five million school days* were missed in the academic year 2011/ 2012 because of family holidays in term time, which is 10.1 per cent* of overall absence in schools. This has prompted the government to make this important change to legislation.

From September 2013, parents who take their children out of school could face a fine for each period of unauthorised absence.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member for children’s services in Leeds said:

“Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school, and we have always encouraged parents to think twice before booking holidays during term time.

"Until now, headteachers have had the discretion to authorise up to ten days absence during term time for holidays. However, due to new government legislation, this is no longer the case, and parents may receive a fine if they take their children out of school without having gained prior authorisation to do so.

“Whilst being sympathetic to parents, the importance of good attendance at school cannot be underestimated. Regular attendance is vital in helping children and young people to achieve their full potential and get the best possible start in life.

“Schools have to comply with this new legislation and we will work closely with them to ensure that this change to the law has a positive impact on pupil attendance rates in Leeds.”

For a penalty notice to be requested, a child must have been absent from school for five days in the same term or period of 12 weeks. If a penalty notice is issued, it will cover the whole period of the absence. So the fine would be the same amount for an absence of five days or 10 days. For example, a parent could be issued with a £60 fine for a child missing one day of school every week over a five week period, whilst another parent might be issued the same fine for a two week block of absence.

As well as losing the discretionary 10-day period, parents that are fined will also have less time to pay. From September 2013 the fines will be £60 per child per parent if paid within 21 days, and £120 if paid between 22 and 28 days. If the fine is not paid, parents will be reported for prosecution.


For media enquiries, please contact:

Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713

Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk