Westvale Park

Primary Academy

Always Children First

Leave of Absence

Leave of Absence in Term Time


Information for parents and carers about taking their children out of school during term time.



By law, parents and carers of children registered at school are responsible for ensuring that their children attend school regularly. If they fail to do this, they are guilty of an offence and may be given a penalty notice or prosecuted under section 444 of the Education Act 1996.


Children should attend school every day so that they make the most of the education available to them. We understand that there may be occasions when a child is unwell and is not able to come to school, but this should be kept to a minimum.


Parents and carers must avoid taking their children out of school during term time.

The Board of Trustees have instructed that authorisation for absence will not be given for absence during term time. Holidays should be taken during the school breaks and not during term time. However, in exceptional circumstances, permission may be given by the Headteacher.


The Law

The Education Regulations 2013, which became law on 1st September 2013 state that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.


It is clear that parents and carers do not have any right to take a child out of school during term time except in exceptional circumstances. In most cases the Headteacher will refuse to authorise term time leave, however, each case will be considered on its individual merits.


The Headteacher is also required to determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if leave is granted.


How we deal with requests for term-time absence

Westvale Park has a very strict policy about term-time holidays. Our policy is to refuse all applications for holidays during term time. As a school, we are not prepared to accept that our children will miss out on their education due to absence during term time. Children are at school for 190 days in the year. That leaves 175 days for holidays and other trips.


How to apply for leave of absence for exceptional circumstances during term time

Please complete the application for leave of absence for exceptional circumstances form or ask one of the office staff for a copy.  This must be done at least 2 weeks in advance of the date of the proposed leave. You should expect to hear from us within 5 working days. Term time holidays will NOT BE AUTHORISED unless there are exceptional circumstances which might justify it. Each case will be considered on its individual merits.


What are exceptional circumstances?

It is the decision of the Headteacher as to what might constitute exceptional circumstances and each request for term-time leave will be considered on an individual basis.

Exceptional leave is NOT:

  • Availability of cheap flights and/or holidays
  • Availability of desired accommodation
  • Parent/carer work commitments
  • Poor weather experienced during school holiday periods
  • Overlap with the beginning or end of term, half term.

Exceptional leave MAY be:

  • Grandparent or other close relative is seriously ill – and you must leave in an emergency
  • Significant trauma in the family recently and a holiday will benefit the child – this must be backed up by a doctor’s letter
  • A one-off, never to be repeated occasion that can only happen at that time, eg family wedding/funeral.
  • Where parent(s)/carer(s) are in the armed forces or emergency services and annual leave is fixed.  Written confirmation of this would need to be provided. Head teachers are not able to authorise other holidays during term time.


What if we decide to go anyway?

If the Headteacher has not authorised the leave, and your child is out of school for 5 or more days then you will receive a Penalty Notice from Surrey County Council.


Penalty Notices are issued and collected by the Local Authority in accordance with Surrey County Council’s Code of Conduct.  The Penalty Notice is £60, per child per parent/carer, if paid within 21 days, or £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days.  Failure to pay the Penalty Notice will result in you being served a summons to appear at the Magistrates Court.


If the time out of school makes your child’s attendance drops below 90%, then they are known as ‘persistently absent’. This means that the Government have given schools new powers to deal with this through the courts. This means facing possible prosecution.


Please don’t take your child out of school during term time, it disrupts your child’s learning and you risk financial penalties.


If we authorise your leave

If we do authorise a leave of absence under exceptional circumstances, you must understand the educational impact upon your child. We will also explain what work your child will miss at school, and agree with you how this may be addressed, either during the holiday or upon your return. Taking work with you on special leave is no substitute for classroom teaching.


If we do authorise your leave you will receive a copy of the signed leave of absence for exceptional circumstances form which confirms the dates when your child will be absent and the agreed date for return. It can only be signed only by the Headteacher. A copy will be kept in the file in the office for our records.