Term time holiday rules relaxed under new guidelines

School TeacherNew guidelines have been drawn up that are set to allow parents to take the children on term-time holidays under specific circumstances.

Revealed in The Sunday Times the guidelines were drawn up by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and are supported by new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Under the guidelines head teachers will be able to grant permission for children to be out of class during term time in the following instances:

  • To attend family weddings or funerals
  • To recover after a personal or family crisis
  • To attend a religious event
  • To visit a relative who is seriously ill

The new guidelines relax a ban on head teachers authorising term time holidays, introduced under previous education secretary Michael Gove.

The ban was opposed by many parents, with over 200,000 coming together to sign a petition against it.

Commenting on the move, Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, chairman of campaign group: Parents Want a Say, which collected the above signatures, said:

“This is a very welcome U-turn. However the devil is in the detail. We will now be monitoring the situation and we may still press for some families to be allowed to take cheap term-time holidays.”

Responding to the new rules, a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “The NAHT is clear that they firmly support the current policy and term-time holidays should only be granted in exceptional circumstances. 

“There are no plans at all to change the policy and no u-turn. Headteachers have always been able to decide what exceptional circumstances are, but if they find that the NAHT's guidance assists them in making this judgement then we welcome that.”

Earlier this year a survey from the BBC, which received responses from more than three-quarters of councils, revealed an increase in the number of term-time holiday fines since the change in law came into effect in September 2013.

Lancashire emerged as the local authority with the biggest increase fines across this period, with a rise of 176%. This was followed by West Sussex (+146%) and Doncaster (+132%).

Fines for term time holidays currently stand at £60 per parent per child per period of absence, doubling to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

If your family is heading off on holiday in the coming months, it’s important to organise family travel insurance in advance.

Date Created: 28 October 2014

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