Absence during term time

You can find out when it is acceptable for your child to miss school on the government's school attendance and absence pages.

If your child needs to have time off school because of illness or medical appointments, you should always contact the school and follow their procedures. Only your child's school can authorise an absence from school. You will find information on how to report your child's absence in the school's attendance policy.

Holidays during term time

You are strongly advised to avoid taking your child out of school for family holidays during term time. Taking a holiday during term time will mean your child misses out on a portion of their educational entitlement and their right to the learning opportunities offered to them.

Children who have missed school, even for a short period of time, often find it difficult to catch up.

Head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. In line with current guidance, it's highly unlikely a head teacher would be able to consider a family holiday as exceptional.

If you have considered the effects of lost learning and still decide to take a holiday during term time, you must make a written request to your school, in advance of the planned holiday, and in line with the school's attendance policy.

The head teacher will determine if there are exceptional circumstances relating to your application and tell you whether your request for leave of absence has been granted.

Where written holiday requests have not been made by parents, and schools have been unable to successfully locate children missing from school as safe and well, safeguarding investigations will be carried out.

Penalties for taking children out of school

If your child doesn't attend school regularly, you could face one or more of these penalties:

  • A fine (known as a penalty notice)
  • a Parenting Order (an order from a court telling you to improve your child's school attendance)
  • an Education Supervision Order, where a supervisor is appointed to help get your child back into education
  • a School Attendance Order, where you're given 15 days to provide evidence that you've registered your child with a school, or to prove that you're educating them at home
  • Prosecution

If you take your child out of school and the absence is not agreed by the head teacher, this will be recorded as unauthorised absence. The school will then notify us and you may face a fixed penalty notice and/or other legal action.

The fixed penalty notice is £60 per parent per child which rises to £120 per parent per child if not paid within 21 days.

There is no appeal against a fixed penalty notice.

If you do not pay a fixed penalty notice this may lead to legal proceedings under the Education Act 1996 section 444(1).

You can pay a fixed penalty notice online. Select 'Education Penalty Notice' when on the payments page.

A 'parent' is defined in Section 576 of the Education Act 1996, as including all natural parents, including those who are not married; any person who has parental responsibility and any person who has care of a child.

View the penalty notice code of conduct

If you have a query about a payment of a penalty notice, email Herefordshire Council Enforcement Team at locality@herefordshire.gov.uk

Children's licensing and enforcement team

For further information and support telephone: 01432 260517 or 01432 383342

Address: Plough Lane, Hereford HR4 0LE
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