As you are no doubt aware, the issue of taking children out of school during term time for holidays has been the subject of a number of pieces in the press and media. The Government and Local Authority have issued further guidance on what schools should all be doing.
In the past there have been some differences in the way this discretion has been applied by schools in the Devizes area. To help ensure a more consistent approach Devizes primary schools have agreed and adopted a joint ‘Attendance Policy’ which is fully in line with guidance provided by the ‘Educational Welfare Service’. It is also in step with practice at Devizes School.
Time off school for family holidays is not a right. However, schools have discretion to authorize some absence for holidays, if they believe that special circumstances warrant it. The fact that holidays are cheaper out of the traditional holidays does not in itself merit the special circumstances under which holidays are likely to be authorized.
Copies of the new policy are available from the school office and on the school’s website (see Parents - Attendance). You will see there that the special circumstances in which holidays are likely to be authorised are normally limited to:
● times when a family needs to spend time together during or after a crisis
● service personnel and others who are prevented from taking holidays outside of term time, if this absence will cause minimal disruption to the pupil’s education.
In all circumstances of holiday leave a written application must be made by the parent with whom the pupil normally resides well in advance of the holiday. Forms for this purpose are available from the school office.
Should a child’s total unauthorised holiday absences amount to 10 or more sessions (5 school days), continuous or aggregated within the previous six months within the current academic year, the Education Welfare Service are now required to be notified. Following this notification from a school that a request for a holiday in term time has not been authorised and the holiday is taken the Local Authority will issue a penalty notice to each parent for each child. Details of penalty notices are found in a booklet provided with a holiday request form.
Whilst as a school we recognize the value in quality family time, we have to follow the new regulations. Therefore, if you are considering a holiday during school time, please come in and discuss it with me so that we can try to avoid unnecessary situations developing.
Any existing authorised absences will be honoured but all future requests will be considered in the light of the new joint policy which comes into effect immediately.
Thank you for working with us on this important issue.