Leave of absence in term time

The law says you do not have a legal right to take your child out of school during term time.

You may be able to take your child out of school in exceptional circumstances, providing:

  • an application is made in advance by the parent/carer with whom the child normally resides
  • the Headteacher has discretion to authorise such leave

School policy on leave of absence

Each school has a policy on granting leave of absence. A Headteacher can only authorise leave of absence in exceptional circumstances. Schools will take into account Government guidance when considering what the exceptional circumstances are.

Taking holidays in school time is not acceptable. Please check term and holiday dates.

The following reasons are not considered to be exceptional circumstances:

  • availability of cheap holidays
  • availability of the desired accommodation
  • poor weather experienced in school holiday periods
  • periods overlapping with beginning or end of term

When a leave of absence becomes an unauthorised absence

If you take a leave of absence without the permission of the school or if your child fails to return by the agreed date if permission was granted, then this will be recorded as an unauthorised absence and noted in your child’s record.

If your child has not returned within 10 days of the expected date of return then, after consultation with the Local Authority, the school may take your child off their school roll.


The school may also ask the Education Welfare Service to consider a Penalty Notice. The Penalty Notice is £60 if paid within 21 days, or £120 if paid after 21 days but within 28 days. If you do not pay a Penalty Notice you will be prosecuted in court.

What parents or carers can do

You should request time off for your child as soon as possible and always 4 weeks before the leave of absence.

However, please do not expect the school to grant your request unless there are exceptional circumstances. It is important to carefully consider the implications of taking your child out of school during term time.

There are 190 statutory school days a year. There are 175 other days (weekends and school holidays) available which would not have a negative effect on your child’s education.

By taking your child out of school for a leave of absence you may be giving them an unspoken message that school does not matter.

Some children may find it difficult to renew friendships with other pupils when they return to school. If the school does grant leave of absence due to exceptional circumstances, please discuss with the Headteacher how you will help your child to catch up with the missing hours of education lost (50 hours for 10 days leave of absence).

When you should avoid taking your child out of school

Especially avoid taking your child out of school:

  • close to, or during, examinations
  • when valuable group work with other pupils is taking place that cannot be repeated
  • if your child needs help in certain subjects to access all the education support that is offered
  • during the Induction Week when your child transfers from one school phase to another and needs to familiarise themselves with the new school layout
  • during the first year in a new school when pupils may experience problems settling in