Quick background: DD is due to be starting school this September when she'll be 4 years old. However her birthday is in July, so by my understanding she's not legally required to be in school full time until after the Easter holidays in 2015. We have no intention of delaying her start at school until a later term.
My DParents have offered to take the whole family on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in January 2015. I'd like to say it's educational, but while there will be small amounts of education it is truthfully just likely to be a fun holiday with extended family. The timing means it would be after my DD has started at school, but before she's required to be there.
I realise taking holiday in term time is never ideal, but for those in education or who have had children going through that stage, how disruptive is it likely to be for a 4 year old to miss around 7 days of school at that point in the academic year?
Also, I can't find any information about how it works in terms of unauthorised absence, fines, etc, when the holiday occurs after the child has started school but before they're required to be there. Could we still be fined? Could she be kicked out and her school place withdrawn?
Just in case anyone else arrives at this thread for advice... In the process of research I've found This Report from the government.
It clearly states that fines and penalties can only apply for children of compulsory school age, which is between 5-16. So, touch wood, it looks like we shouldn't experience any legal/financial repercussions if we did take DD out of school for a week and a bit when she's only 4.5.
Once you have chosen to enroll your DC in school (even if younger than the compulsory age) then they should attend. So an unauthorised absence will be managed exactly as it would be for any school pupil. Though it correct no fine can be raised.
I emailed the education department at the council and now have an official response saying that no fine would be applied for taking a child out of school for a short(ish) period ahead of compulsory schooling age. I'll keep that safe and wave it in the face of the school if needed.
Not sure how that works for a May holiday for an August birthday, however. As that would be missing time in the term they're due to be starting school? It depends whether it's the term they turn 5 or the term after they turn 5 that is considered compulsory.
Also, different councils may respond differently. Mine is apparently quite lax about the rules/fines/etc, primarily because of political spats!