As we get the first hints of blue skies, our thoughts turn to warmer days and family holidays in the sun. But if you’ve got a child in school, you’ll know that the rules on term time holidays can make thing more difficult.
If you’re planning a trip away, organising your travel arrangements around the Hertfordshire school holidays is essential – unless you want to come home to a possible £60 fine per parent per child from your local education authority.
Herts term time holidays
Unfortunately for families, there is no automatic entitlement to take children out of school for holidays during term time.
Parents and carers have a legal responsibility of making sure their child attends school. You can apply for a special exception (to attend a funeral, for example), but it’s up to the headteacher whether to grant an application for leave.
If you do not apply for leave of absence in advance, the absence will be recorded as unauthorised and you can be fined for taking your child on holiday without consent.
Will I receive a fine for taking my child out of school?
For parenting in Hertfordshire, a penalty notice may be issued if a child more than 15 half days of unauthorised absence in the current and / or previous term.
So, if you took your child out of school for more than 7 full days without permission, you may be issued with a £60 fine per parent/carer per child.
In addition to this, the following criteria must also apply:
- The school must have sent you a formal warning.
- The school, academy, police or attendance improvement officer considers that issuing you with a penalty notice could prevent any more absences.
- Issuing a penalty notice does not conflict with any legal action being taken.
*Note* If you receive a telephone call requesting payment for a fine without first being notified by post, do not pay it. Contact the council on 0300 123 4040 to check whether the call is genuine.
Do I have to pay the fine?
If you fail to pay the fine with 21 days of it being issued, it will increase to £120.
If it isn’t paid within 28 days, you will be taken to magistrates’ court. This could result in a criminal record, a fine of up to £2,500 and up to three months in prison.
Absences are accepted only where a child is too unwell to attend school or they are attending a medical appointment (you may need to provide evidence, such as a letter from your doctor), if they are observing a recognised religious holiday, or if you have otherwise been granted advanced consent by the school.
For more information and legal advice if you receive a fine, visit childlawadvice.org.uk
You can also find full details of Hertfordshire County Council’s term time holidays policy at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/services/schools-and-education