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School holidays in term time

The Education Act states that parents and carers must ensure that their children of school age receive suitable education. For most children this is full time schooling.

Research shows that children who attend school regularly are likely to be more successful. Half a day a week missed during years 10 and 11 can mean the loss of a grade for every GCSE taken. For a pupil who misses a day of school a week, this is equivalent to 2 whole years in their school life. This may lead to gaps in their knowledge and when this happens pupils often avoid going to school.

Many families will inevitably go though periods when life can be very challenging and this may affect a child's attendance at a school. In these situations it is really important that parents and carers talk to staff at the school to gain support and to stop non-attendance at school being a long term problem.

Holidays in term time

You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.

You can only do this if:

  • you make an application to the head teacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with)
  • there are exceptional circumstances

It's up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted.

You can be fined (opens in a new window) for taking your child on holiday during term time without the school's permission.

If you have any concerns, speak to your head teacher. They will decide whether your circumstances are exceptional.

Penalty notices

In some circumstances we can take legal action (opens in a new window) to enforce school attendance.

Read more about Dorset Children's Services penalty notice protocol (pdf, 242kb) (opens in a new window).

Speak to the head teacher if you're struggling to get your child to attend school.

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