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School term dates and times of school day

Timings of the school day

Cumbria County Council

Education & Skills 

Cumbria House

117 Botchergate





T: 01228 226884 F: 01228 606060


June 2021



Dear Parent/Carer 




Absence from school due to family holidays taken in term time can be disruptive to children’s education. It can also be disruptive to other pupils in the class. In addition, I am concerned that there could be some misunderstanding of the law in relation to absence from school because of holidays taken during term time


Any absence from school should be avoid ed unless for medical reasons, as it can have a serious effect on your child’s educational progress, and can create difficulties for them on their return to school, partic ularly if they are joining a new school or class. It is important to note that only the Headteacher can authorise absence from school. Parents/Carers cannot authorise the absence themselves.


Changes to legislation have removed the discretionary 10 day period of absence which covered family holidays. Schools can only grant requests for holiday absence in term tim e in exceptional circumstances. If you believe that your circumstances are exceptiona l you can make a request to the school. In considering a request, the school will take into account the child’s age, the time of year of the absence, and the nature of the visit. The Headteacher will also consider the child’s stage of education and progres s and the child’s overall attendance record. It is highly unlikely that leave will be authorised if examinations or other important tests will be missed. Headteachers will not authorise absence unless they believe your circumstances are exceptional. In all cases it is best to have a discussion with the Headteacher in order to look at the issues as they affect your child.


All unauthorised absences, including holidays that have not been sanctioned by the Headteacher, are accumulated and parents who fail to ensure regular attendance of their children at school can be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice. The amount is £60 if paid within 21days and £120 if paid between 21 and 28 days. It is therefore essential that parents take this into consideration if they are thinking of a family holiday in term-time.


The Department for Education define persistent absenteeism as below 90% attendance and schools may wish to use this figure to determine whether or not to pursue legal action such as the issuing of a fixed penalty notice.


Many people are working very hard to help your child to succeed. I trust you will support us in this matter, in partnership with your child’s school.


Yours sincerely


Daniel Barton

Assistant Director – Education & Skills




Parents may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice for unauthorised absence including taking holidays in term-time without permission.