Prior to September 2013, head teachers could grant up to ten days authorised leave to parents planning a holiday during term-time with their children. However, the rules were changed so that authorised leave could only be granted by head teachers in 'exceptional circumstances'. Failing to properly gain permission before removing a child from school can now result in a £60 fine, increasing to £120 if not paid promptly.
The increased threshold has been the subject of much debate. Many will have heard of Jon Platt, a parent fined for taking his daughter on holiday during term time and subsequently winning his appeal against the £120 fine. Although the High Court decided in Mr Platt's favour, they did not clearly define what constitutes 'regular attendance'. The Council in this case have appealed to the Supreme Court and a decision is expected shortly.
Recent BBC investigations found that since Jon Platt's High Court case, 35 Councils in England have reassessed their policy on fining parents. Indeed, Derbyshire County Council has decided not to issue fines when a child's overall attendance is above 94% in the previous 12 months. However, despite the fact that various Councils are reconsidering their policies, the Department for Education's approach remains that 'children's attendance at school is non-negotiable'.
Whilst change may soon be on the horizon, the 'exceptional circumstance' threshold still applies. Parents must seek authorisation from the head teacher before removing their child from school, any failure to do so may result in fines.