Hillside Primary School is committed to providing a stimulating and enjoyable education experience for all pupils.  We, therefore, believe that if pupils are to benefit from the education we offer, good attendance is crucial.  We will actively promote, encourage and celebrate full and/or improved attendance.  Parents have a vital role to play in this, and we will establish strong home-school links and communications with them.

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 in 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 Government expects Local Authorities to have a Code of Conduct in place so that the full range of measures for improving attendance are available to schools (Appendix 2 of our Attendance Policy). Regular school attendance is both a legal requirement and essential if the children of Stoke-on-Trent are to achieve better outcomes in education and maximise the opportunities available to them. Stoke-on-Trent schools consistently work towards a goal of 100 per cent attendance for all children in school.

The purpose of the local Code of Conduct is to ensure that Penalty Notices are issued consistently and fairly across the Local Authority area, in accordance with the relevant legislation, and that suitable arrangements are in place for the administration of the scheme.

The Law

Amendments to the 2006 Education Act make clear 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 the extenuating circumstances. In most cases the Head teacher will refuse to authorise term time leave, however, each case will be considered on its individual merits.

How we deal with requests for term-time absence

Hillside Primary School has a very strict policy about term time holidays. Our policy is to refuse all applications for holidays during term time (unless there are exceptional circumstances). As a school, we are no longer 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 special leave during term time

Please complete the Leave of Absence Request (Appendix 1 of the Attendance Policy) form or request a copy from the school office.  This must be completed and submitted at least 4 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.

What if we decide to go anyway?

Stoke on Trent Local Authority determines that absence which is not authorised may result in the issue of a penalty notice. Further details can be found in the Attendance Policy.

If the Headteacher has not authorised the leave, and your child is out of school for between half a day and 10 days then you could receive a minimum fine of £60 per child. If your child remains out of school for more than 10 days, then you risk losing your child’s place.

If the time out school makes your child’s attendance drop 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 special 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 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.