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Headteacher's Blog

Where has September gone?  I turned over the page in my diary this weekend and there it was … October!  Three more pages and we are at half term.

I am pleased to report that students have long shaken off holiday mode; they are working hard and our teachers are pleased with their effort. The first set of grades will go home just before half term.

This term is very long – fifteen weeks - so we want to make sure that we can pace ourselves whilst making sure that the curriculum is covered. I am a great believer in this term being the one where most of the work is covered. I hope you have had an opportunity to read the Oaklands News, in particular the report on examination success.

One area I would like to focus on during this blog is term time holidays. As a school, we have seen a significant rise in the number of parents requesting term time holidays. This is evident in our attendance statistics, which have sadly taken a hit. The analysis points the finger at term time holidays.

Managing the requests from parents to take children out of school for family holidays is always difficult, particularly due to the potential for disruption to that child and his or her classmates. The correlation between poor attendance and performance is absolute, so considering a request for a term time holiday may not be as straightforward as some parents believe.

The DfE is keen to discourage term-time holidays, the guidance states:

  • It is for schools and academies, not parents, to approve a child's absence.
  • Approval for term-time absence will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.
  • Approval for a family holiday is unlikely to be considered 'exceptional'.

In accordance with the law, parents who breach the rules will be fined £60 per parent per child or, in some cases, rising to £120 per parent per child for late payment.  If a parent refuses to pay the fine, he or she may be prosecuted, leading to a potential fine of £1,000, a community service order or, in extreme cases, imprisonment of up to three months.

Irrespective of a child's attendance record or profile in school, our ability to give authorisation for term time holiday is restricted by the law. To fall within the definition of 'exceptional circumstances', absences will generally need to be totally unavoidable, short and for reasons beyond the control of the family, for example, a bereavement abroad. The DfE has been clear that family holidays, even those ‘once in a lifetime’ will not fit these criteria.

Please consider this carefully when making holiday arrangements.