The York Council are telling parents about a new protocol for leave of absence in term time, which will be made in September 2013.
The changes mean that head teachers must not grant any request for leave of absence unless in exceptional circumstances. Most often such requests for leave during term-time occur when parents seek time out of school for a family holiday.
The Council says it is “working with schools to ensure there is a consistent approach to requests for leave of absence and to what may constitute exceptional circumstances. The DfE has said that holidays should not be authorised on the grounds of cost or the availability of a particular holiday”.
This new guidance is as a step to further reduce the amount of time children lose to holidays in term time. Nationally 15% of all absence in primary schools is due to children being removed for holidays in term time, with the vast majority of this absence being authorised. In secondary schools the figure is significantly lower with 5.5% of all absence being due to holidays in term time.
Currently, in certain circumstances, parents can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice where they take a holiday in term time which is not authorised by the head teacher.
The changes from September will mean that when parents are issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice they will have to pay £60 within 21 days (previously 28 days), or £120 if they pay outside of the 21 days but within 28 days (previously 42 days).
Each parent can be issued with a notice for each child so two parents with two children can potentially be issued with four notices.
A Council spokesman said: “Our overall attendance records for schools in York is excellent, therefore most parents in the city will not be affected by this. However, where parents do have concerns about their child’s attendance they must talk to their child’s school directly to ensure they are adhering to its policy and are not in danger of being issued a Fixed Penalty Notice.”