Holidays during term time – should we or shouldn’t we?!

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With the Easter school holidays just over us and summer fast approaching most of us are thinking about booking a holiday. All parents know that the cost of taking their family on holiday outside term time is usually much more expensive than a holiday during term time. Whilst it is up to the travel companies to bring their prices down, this doesn’t always happen and parents are often left pondering whether they can or cannot take their child on holiday during term time without being fined?

 There has been much debate in the news recently about a father who took his local Council to court over a fine he received after taking his child on holiday during term time without the school’s consent. In England, parents can be fined £60 for unauthorised absences. The father was initially successful but the Council took the case to the highest Court in the UK, the Supreme Court, which ruled against him and said he must face prosecution for failure to pay the fine.

 The situation is different in Northern Ireland. As a parent you are legally obliged to ensure your child goes to school regularly. You are also obliged to inform the school of the reason for any absences which is recorded by the Education Welfare Service. Failure to attend school regularly could result in a fine of up to £1000 per child per parent or even in the most serious cases a prosecution. In Northern Ireland the trigger point is normally when attendance falls below 85%. Therefore, one off fines for unauthorised absences, e.g. one off holidays, don’t apply in Northern Ireland. A school can authorise an absence in exceptional circumstances so it is best to speak with your school if you are planning to remove your child from school during term time.

 As the law regarding unauthorised absences is different in Northern Ireland the Supreme Court ruling is unlikely to adversely affect parents here.

 Should you require legal advice in relation to any child or family matter please do not hesitate to contact our expert Family solicitors on 02890 329801 or my email