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Rules on taking holiday during term time - 4 year old in reception

(26 Posts)
MoonHare Wed 24-Apr-13 12:20:47

Can anyone help me clarify what the rules are around school attendance for under 5s?

I did some research and thought I'd found information to indicate that since parents are not legally obliged to ensure their child is receiving an education until the age of 5 that it would not count as an unauthorised absence if a 4 year old was taken out of school for a family holiday.

With this in mind I've booked a weeks holiday in June, including DD who is 4.

Put in my absence request to school yesterday and thought I'd double check the rules. The DFE website suggests I might have got it wrong. It says there's no obligation to have children in school before 5 years but then goes on to say that if a child is registered at a school then parents have a duty to ensure attendance. So does that include 4 year olds who are registered???

Eeek! Am now worried about incurring a fine!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Sat 11-Nov-17 09:56:15

In fairness, soap I did mean to change that bit to extended absence before I posted.

You are probably right about the fine escalating if the absence was long enough. I doubt most LAs are organised enough to get them issued quickly enough though.

soapboxqueen Sat 11-Nov-17 09:28:50

miaow my LEA rarely fines (was in the paper for being one of the lowest) which I think is a which approach. They've always focused on persistent truants and families in difficulty.

MiaowTheCat Sat 11-Nov-17 09:06:10

We've just had a clarification on our school's rules sent out earlier this week. They basically have the "can't authorise it" rule in place but if it's just a day or so added on either side of a half term, or say Fri-Mon to make a weekend longer to visit far away relatives and attendance generally is over their percentage threshold they won't go to the LEA to issue a fine. Bit of leeway but not to the level where you can get 2 weeks in Lanzarote anymore.

soapboxqueen Sat 11-Nov-17 08:30:04

Saracen it is disingenuous to say rafals is spreading rumours when the act you quoted specifically states that a head can remove a place after 2 weeks in some circumstances. The crux being set on a return date not being met as apposed to just a long absence (4 weeks).

I would also wonder if the absence was long enough and a fine issued quickly enough, if the fine could escalate before a parent even got back from holiday to deal with it.

Saracen Sat 11-Nov-17 00:48:24

"It definitely allows heads to remove places from children of statutory school age who are absent for more than 2 weeks."

Not true. Please don't spread rumours which confuse people. The relevant circumstance under which a pupil's name can be deleted from the admissions register is this:

"that he has been continuously absent from the school for a period of not less than twenty school days and —
(i)at no time was his absence during that period agreed by the proprietor;
(ii)the proprietor does not have reasonable grounds to believe that the pupil is unable to attend the school by reason of sickness or any unavoidable cause; and
(iii)the proprietor of the school has failed, after reasonable enquiry, to ascertain where the pupil is;"
Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006, 8(3)(b)

so if you inform the head of where you are going and that you plan to return, you shouldn't lose the school place. There is no way you'd lose it until the child has been gone for twenty school days.

Maggie, in answer to the question of which school will take you, if your child does lose the school place due to a prolonged absence - which might be the case if you are deemed to have moved away, for example, or if the school can plausibly claim that your child had disappeared and that they didn't know where he'd gone - then when you return you are in the same boat as someone who has just moved to the area.

If the child's former school has a vacancy then you can simply register him there again. If not, you can register him at any school which does have a vacancy. If all local schools are oversubscribed, then ask the LA to provide a school place and they are obligated to sort something out, but it will be at whichever school can accommodate him rather than a school you choose.

Some people who want to make regular extended trips to visit family abroad during term-time decide to home educate in order to ensure continuity in their children's education, so if you are going to do this in future years then that might be an option to consider.

MaggieS41 Fri 10-Nov-17 21:43:17

I will investigate, cheers. However it seems odd that education is deemed to be so important even at reception that they feel it necessary to remove your place after 2 weeks absence. Where do you go? What school can/will take you? Is taking 2 weeks off school so detrimental to the pupils that they then have to suffer with no education at all or difficulty finding a new school etc? Pupils and parents are punished? It’s counterproductive. If it happened it would be a good excuse to my DH to bloody go back home for good! I doubt it will but you can’t predict the way schools behave from the posts I read here!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 10-Nov-17 21:05:11

There is leeway for heads to consider individual circumstances. But in your case, it may be the law that is the issue. It definitely allows heads to remove places from children of statutory school age who are absent for more than 2 weeks. And they definitely have to allow children to defer and hold the place.

What I'm not sure about is whether it allows heads to remove places for children who have started school but are not of statutory school age. I suspect it might.

MaggieS41 Fri 10-Nov-17 20:43:20

Rafals he started in September and I’m pretty confident they can’t remove his place after speaking to others in the industry but thanks! I will check again. Problem is with the education system is that different schools like to interpret the laws/rules differently. You can tell from the responses you get from posters on here!
But at the end of the day the laws supersede them.

soapboxqueen Fri 10-Nov-17 20:42:38

Schools are highly unlikely to authorize a holiday. However if your child is under compulsary school age (term after they turn 5) you can't be fined. So most likely it will be an unauthorised absence but will not be fined. If you take your child out for more than 2 weeks the school can decide you have left and remove your child from the register. This may or may not be an issue depending o if your child's school is over subscribed.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 10-Nov-17 20:21:24

tickie, is your daughter 4 in May 2018?

Maggie if you haven't already, just check they can't and won't remove his school place. If you delay entry until after you get back they definitely can't, but I'm not sure it's so clear cut if he has already started.

MaggieS41 Fri 10-Nov-17 18:50:02

My DS is a summer baby in reception but we’ll be going on a 5 week overseas trip to see family next year over April half term. Don’t give a shit what people think or say. Already warned the headteacher of the school. They confirmed they cannot fine me and that there is a different attendance record for non compulsory school aged kids.

Call me irresponsible, selfish, whatever. Don’t care. My sons relationships with their family is far more important than learning a set of phonics or maths which we can do while we’re away. The only slight concern is the friend dynamic when we return but it’s something that may or may not happen....

MiaowTheCat Fri 10-Nov-17 18:05:30

At our old school where the Head was never on the side of the parents or being reasonable (she's the sort who'd tell parents who didn't get in - "by the way don't appeal it costs us money to defend it and you won't win" to give you some idea of her charm) you would get a very pissed off reply back that it's not allowed... but I can't fine you because they're not old enough yet.

trickiedickie Fri 10-Nov-17 17:06:25

i am a bit confused. my little one is 4 next may but am not sure if one has to apply for a place in september next year and can one take out of school then until she is 5 or unto she is 5 - no problem. she is in pre school roots at the moment.

verap Thu 23-Jan-14 15:35:07

Just to say thank you, all went well, no charges, no letters from school, etc.

verap Fri 06-Dec-13 10:05:49

Saracen - thanks for your answer, I shall keep you posted about the outcome of this :-)

Saracen Thu 05-Dec-13 23:33:32

Hi verap! You cannot be fined for the nonattendance of a child who is below compulsory school age. In England and Wales, compulsory school age starts in the term after the child's fifth birthday, so your child is still below compulsory school age.

From DfE's statutory guidance "Parental responsibility
measures for school attendance and behaviour" issued November 2013:

"Parenting contracts, orders and penalty notices for irregular attendance apply only to pupils of compulsory school age who are registered at a school."

You can download the document here: http://www.education.gov.uk/g00229776/measures-attendance-behaviour

Enjoy your holiday!

verap Thu 05-Dec-13 20:02:54

My DD is 4 (in Reception class since September). We are going on holiday so she will be absent from school the last week in December. Received a letter from school today saying that are unable to authorize it.
We are going anyway but hoping we wont be fined.

kilmuir Wed 24-Apr-13 20:24:56

Do it. your child is 4!

freetrait Wed 24-Apr-13 20:02:17

Indeed. But they can't penalise you if your child is under 5 and not legally obliged to be there. And you may learn a lot from a week out of school at that age wink. I haven't done it and won't do it as both my children are Autumn birthdays, and I certainly wouldn't do it further up the school, although plenty do....

tiggytape Wed 24-Apr-13 14:36:56

That may be true freetrait but it doesn't mean the holidays were authorised or the school allowed it. It just means a lot of people did it regardless.

freetrait Wed 24-Apr-13 14:16:44

Lots of parents took YR kids out of school for holiday. I don't think many asked permission!

Jenny70 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:01:24

If you choose not to apply for a place until after your child turns 5, that is your choice, but the classes will be full of their peers that did apply - so keep that in mind.

If you do put your 4 year old into reception, they are obliged to attend. They are taking the spot of someone else who is willing to attend (in our over subscribed school)... It is disruptive to the class to have children in and out, missing a weeks worth of lessons, when they are building a phonics base, or a topic over the term.

It's not the biggest deal to have a week off, but don't expect any smile and wink from the teacher - the school will be cross about it, but won't fine you unless you do it often.

expansivegirth Wed 24-Apr-13 12:43:05

I don't think the authorities are allowed to fine parents of children under five. I believe that the attendance for children under five are not even reported to the local authority - as they do not count towards attendance for Ofsted figures - or so I was told in 2011. Perhaps things have changed. Anyone on here fined for taking out a four year old?

You could go on the website of your local authority and they will tell you the policy for your borough. In some fines come into effect faster than others. In our borough there are quite a few days, and consequetive days indicating a pattern of repeated absence, before fines kick in.

tiggytape Wed 24-Apr-13 12:28:36

Pretty much as AuntieStella says

However fines aren't automatic for unauthorised attendance so hopefully you won't have to worry. And the school may authorise it anyway. Our area has a blanket policy of never authorising term time holidays but other parts of the country and other schools seem much less strict

AuntieStella Wed 24-Apr-13 12:23:55

You don't have to enroll your DC in school until term after 5th birthday. But if you choose to enroll them they should attend.

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