Until recently, UK law stated that holidays during term time could be granted in ‘special circumstances’. A higher threshold of ‘exceptional circumstances’ was applied where the duration was of more than 10 days.
From 1 September 2013 there is a requirement that only those circumstances considered to be exceptional will permit term time holiday, regardless of duration. The definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ remains unclear, but it is likely that dispensation will be made for families in the services or where leave is required by religious beliefs, bereavement or health.
Those found to breach the new rules could face fines of between £60 and £120. The rationale behind the penalty is to sanction parents who fail to ensure their child’s regular attendance at school.
Substantively, the effect of this legal change could be perceived as small; similar penalty provisions have been in place since 2007. However, where the previous two pronged approach could have led parents to believe that it was acceptable to take a maximum of 10 consecutive days of holiday during term time, the new law clarifies that leave is only permissible when circumstances are exceptional.
Michelmores has a dedicated education team which advises on day to day issues including admissions, attendance and the Ofsted framework regarding admissions.
If you require any further information please contact Jade Porter, a Solicitor in the Education Team on 01392 687523.