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Holidays in Term Time - update

Following recent stories in the Press regarding holidays taken in term time and Penalty Notices being issued, the Local Authority has provided additional information for parents:

Information for parents/carers:

There is much research that shows a strong correlation between high attendance and high attainment for all children. A recent publication from the Department for Education publication indicated that even missing a short amount of time from school can reduce every pupil’s chance of securing the grades they are capable of achieving.

Following the recent decision by Isle of Wight magistrates to not hear a case against a father who removed his child from school for a holiday during term time, we wish to clarify for all our parents and carers both the current implications of this case; and the current position on absence from school particularly regarding holidays during term time.

The first is that:

The Isle of Wight decision did not set a legal precedent, because magistrates’ decisions are not binding on other courts.     

Headteachers must continue to comply with the 2013 amendment to the  Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (2006) Regulations 2013 which means that they cannot authorise a leave of absence from school unless it is exceptional.

Parents/carers must comply with  Section 444 of the Education Act 1996 that states that

“(1) If a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school, his parent is guilty of an offence.”

“(1A) If in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (1) the parent knows that his child is failing to attend regularly at the school and fails without reasonable justification to cause him to do so, he is guilty of an offence.”

Despite the recent decision of the magistrates on the Isle of Wight (which is subject to appeal) parents and carers can be failing to comply with section 444 of the Education Act if their child has unauthorised absences even if those unauthorised absences are for a family holiday.

As such all Local Authorities and their Headteachers must continue to follow the law on attendance and implement the government’s guidance around attendance. This remains the legal expectation for all education authorities, and supports children in attending their statutory entitlement of 190 days per year.  As a result the Isle of Wight and Hampshire County Council has reviewed the legal position in relation to the code of conduct for issuing penalty notices for unauthorised absence from school, and our code of conduct currently remains unchanged.

It is of vital importance that all of us – the local authority, families, schools and children – do all we can to ensure children achieve the highest levels of attendance.