As you will be aware, the Government has now introduced some significant changes to attendance regulations for pupils at school as from September 2013. The most important of these is in relation to term-time family holidays. Below is a quotation directly from the Department for Education Circular:

‘Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days. The amendments make clear that Head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.’

St James’ draws your attention particularly to the second sentence of this paragraph. Clearly there are many situations which may constitute exceptional circumstances, but as a general rule, I interpret ‘exceptional’ in this context as being of unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child, which outweighs the loss of teaching time.

Exceptional circumstances will not include reasons such as:

  • The holiday is cheaper.
  • Attending a wedding.
  • Fits in better with work/only time parents get time off work (unless an official letter from the employer verifying this is submitted with the request).
  • To celebrate a birthday/anniversary.

It is very difficult for St James’ and the governing body to provide parents with a list of what constitutes an exceptional circumstance and whilst it will be important to look at the whole situation in making decisions about any individual request, it has been agreed that our policy will be to normally refuse requests.   The effect of this change means that the government expects it to be extremely unusual for leave of absence, including for holidays in term time, to be permitted by schools.

May we therefore ask that if you do need to take your child out of school during term time, you are very clear in your request as to how the circumstances are exceptional. If this is not clear then under the new legislation, I will not be allowed to grant leave. Without doubt, holidays are best taken out of term time, during one of the 13 weeks holiday that the children have away from school.

In addition to this new legislation there are also new regulations in place in which the imposition of penalty fines for parents and carers taking children out of school in unauthorised circumstances will now be imposed more strictly by the Local Authority. You should also be aware that the rates and the timings of imposition of penalty fines will also become much more stringent.

If you would like to make a request in person, please contact Mrs Samuels or Mrs Rees in the first instance at the school office.


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