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Quick Guide For Parents / Carers - From Staffordshire County Council
If a child is absent due to illness, parents should contact school on the first and each day of their child’s absence from school, before 9:30am. This can be done via ParentMail or by telephone (01283 247560, option 1 for the absence line). The reason for absence should be fully explained i.e. please give the details of the illness. School can then decide which code to enter in the register.
If an absence relates to a legal or educational matter, written details must be provided in advance in order for the absence to be recorded and a decision to be made whether the absence can be authorised. From 1st September 2013, the Department of Education made important changes to the law for families wanting to request leave of absence in term time. Holidays, extended trips to visit families abroad, day trips, visits to theme parks, birthdays and visits to the dentist (unless as an emergency) are not legitimate reasons for requesting exceptional leave of absence. The Local Authority and school governors support this; therefore students will only be given permission to take leave in term time if there are exceptional circumstances.
Planned Medical Appointments:
Medical appointments in school time should be avoided. This includes routine dental and medical appointments. Parents should, where possible, arrange all routine appointments to take place after school or during school holidays. If the appointment relates to ongoing medical or dental issues, parents are asked to provide proof by means of a medical appointment letter.
All requests to take children out of school, during the school day for medical appointments, should be made in writing or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the absence.
APPENDIX 1 Guidance Notes for Parents requesting Leave in Term Time
Parents who want the school to consider granting leave of absence in school term time should read these notes carefully. Absent requests should be sent in to school in time to be considered well before the desired period of absence (a minimum of 10 working days, where possible). Parents are strongly advised not to finalise any booking arrangements before receiving the school’s decision regarding their request. Head teachers cannot authorise any leave of absence unless the request is received before the period of absence begins.
The Department for Education makes it clear that head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. Head teachers now also determine the number of school days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.
There is no automatic right to any leave in term time.
Staffordshire County Council understands the challenges that some parents face when booking holidays particularly during school holidays. However, we believe that, in order to ensure children receive the best education and prospects that they should be in school during term time.
Where parents have children in more than one school a separate request must be made to each school. The head teacher of each school will make their own decision based on the factors relating to the child at their school. However head teachers may choose to liaise with each other as part of their decision-making process.
Should the school decide to grant leave of absence, but the child does not return to school at the time s/he was expected to (i.e. following the expiry of the granted leave of absence period) and no information is available to the school to explain/justify the continuing absence this absence will be recorded as unauthorised.
Should the school decide not to grant leave of absence and parents still take their child out of school, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised, which may be subject to a Penalty Notice fine of £60 per parent* per child. This fine will increase to £120 if not paid within 21 days. Failure to pay the £120 fine within the period 22 to 28 days may lead to Court proceedings.
The Local Authority will continue to monitor all school absences during term time and support head teachers in challenging parents who ignore the law.
* Generally the DfE states that parents include all those with day to day responsibility for a child.
More: DfE Guidance August 2013
Central to raising standards in education and ensuring all pupils can fulfil their potential is an assumption so widely understood that it is insufficiently stated – pupils need to attend school regularly to benefit from their education. Missing out on lessons leaves children vulnerable to falling behind. Children with poor attendance tend to achieve less in both primary and secondary school.
The Government expects:
- Schools and local authorities to:
- promote good attendance and reduce absence, including persistent absence;
- ensure every pupil has access to full-time education to which they are entitled; and,
- act early to address patterns of absence.
- Parents to perform their legal duty by ensuring their children of compulsory school age who are registered at school attend regularly.
- All pupils to be punctual to their lessons.
FAQs from the DfE guidance:
Can a parent take their child on holiday during term time?
Head teachers should only authorise leave of absence in exceptional circumstances. If a head teacher grants a leave request, it will be for the head teacher to determine the length of time that the child can be away from school. Leave is unlikely, however, to be granted for the purposes of a family holiday as a norm.
Can a school fine a parent for taking their child on holiday during term time?
Yes. Parents have a legal duty to make sure that their child aged 5-16, if registered at a school, attends that school regularly. If taking an unauthorised term time holiday is grounds for issuing a penalty notice according to the local authority’s code, and if the leave of absence for holiday was not authorised by the school, either the school or the local authority may issue a penalty notice.