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As the school holidays approach, Dorset County Council has reminded parents and carers that taking children out of school during term time, without permission from the head teacher, could result in prosecution. 

If requested by the school, the county council may issue a penalty notice of £60 for unauthorised absence, which if not paid within 21 days, will double to £120. If this remains unpaid, parents will be prosecuted in the magistrates’ court.

The law regarding school attendance was clarified recently when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Isle of Wight Council in prosecuting a father for taking his daughter out of school without permission. It ruled that parents must ensure their children attend school regularly, and that ‘regularly’ means ‘in accordance with the rules prescribed by the school’.

The advice to parents and carers is:

You must make applications for absences to the head teacher in advance, and these will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. 

Check what your school’s rules are regarding the definition of ‘regular’ attendance. 

Deborah Croney, Dorset County Council’s Cabinet member for economy, education, learning and skills, said: ‘We are asking parents to consider the impact holidays during term time could have on their child’s education.

‘There is clear evidence that missing school can lead to lower academic achievement. Taking a child on holiday in term time can also interrupt the learning of the whole class, with teachers having to spend time helping children catch up when they return.  

‘One of our top priorities is enabling children to have the best possible start in life, and a major part of this is education.’

Find out about school attendance at www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/school-holidays-term-time

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