The Welsh Government has published Guidance on the use of Fixed Penalty Notices, Circular 116/2013. This can be found by clicking this link. This requires each Local Authority to develop a Code of Conduct for the imposition of Fixed Penalty Notices. Monmouthshire has developed a Code of Conduct and this allied to the Local Authority Attendance Policy enables schools to request the imposition of a Fixed Penalty Notice. The Code of Conduct can be found by clicking this link.
The Welsh Government Guidance allows each Local Authority to impose a Fixed Penalty Notice if a child’s unauthorised absence is in excess of 10 sessions per term. A session is defined as half a day. Hence it is vital that parents inform schools of reasons behind their child’s absence. It is then up to the Head Teacher who will decide whether to authorise the child’s absence or not.
Punctuality is also very important. If pupils’ are late in arriving to school and arrive after registers have closed this is also classed as unauthorised absence. The Local Authority has drafted a letter that Head Teachers could send to parents. This letter explains that Monmouthshire are introducing Fixed Penalty Notices from September and can be found by clicking this link.
Holidays in term time
Monmouthshire advises Head Teachers to consider any holiday requests on an individual pupil basis. The All Wales Attendance Framework allows Head Teachers to authorise up to 10 days per year. This is not an automatic right for parents or pupils. Head Teachers will take into consideration pupils’ previous attendance records when considering parental requests for holidays in term time.
If you are considering booking a holiday in term time you are strongly advised to contact the Head Teacher before confirming any booking. Term dates can be obtained from the school either verbally, in writing or on a school’s website.
If you are considering taking your child on a family holiday during school term time, there are certain things you should take into account:
- Do you really need to take a holiday in term time or can you take the holiday during school holidays?
- Have you considered the disruption to your child’s education?
If you feel you must take the holiday during school term, you will need to complete a request form which is available from your child’s school. As with any request for absence, you should make the application as far in advance as possible.
Head Teachers cannot legally authorise more than 10 school days of holiday per school year unless, in the view of the Head Teacher, there are ‘exceptional circumstances’. Holidays taken without the Head Teacher’s permission will be recorded as unauthorised absence.
If Head Teachers decide not to authorise the request for a holiday and the subsequent time off is in excess of 10 sessions in a term then parents run the risk of a Fixed Penalty Notice being issued. It is important to stress that Fixed Penalty Notices are not automatically served if a pupil goes on holiday, they can only be served if the holiday is unauthorised and the pupils’ total unauthorised absence that term is in excess of 10 sessions.
Ultimately this will be a decision for the Head Teacher of the school as to whether they request the imposition of a Fixed Penalty Notice if they have refused to authorise a holiday request.