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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Term dates and school holidays

You can get your child's school term and holiday dates online. It's strongly advised that you should not take your child out of school for family holidays during term time. However, it may be allowed in special circumstances. Find out what these are.

Find out term dates for schools near you

The link below lets you type in your postcode/location and then takes you to information about term dates on your local authority's website.

Holidays during term time - what the law says

You should not normally take your child on holiday in term time - it can be disruptive both to your child's learning and to the school. Schools will only consider holidays in term time where both:

  • the application is made to the headteacher in advance of the holiday by a parent the child normally lives with
  • there are special reasons for needing to take the holiday, like the inflexibility of the parents’ holiday leave

Applications should be made as far in advance of the holiday as possible and you should speak to the school before you book. Schools will only agree to more than 10 school days of absence in any school year in exceptional circumstances.

How do schools consider term time holiday requests?

Schools will judge each holiday request individually, taking into consideration:

  • the time of year for the proposed trip
  • if it's close to any exam dates
  • your child's overall attendance record
  • any holidays already taken in the school year
  • the age and stage of education of your child
  • the ability of your child to catch up the work that they have missed
  • the reason why you are taking the time off during term time

While absence may be granted for a holiday during term time, it is entirely the school’s decision and is not a parental right.

Penalty notices for unauthorised absence

You could be issued with a penalty notice if your child is absent from school without permission. Penalty notices can be issued by:

  • local councils
  • headteachers (including deputy and assistant heads authorised by them)
  • the police

This can include parents who take their children on holiday during term time without getting authorisation from the school. The penalty is £50, rising to £100 if not paid within 28 days. If you fail to pay a penalty fine within 42 days you will be prosecuted.

Who decides what the term dates should be?

Who sets school terms and holidays depends on the type of school your child attends.

Community and voluntary controlled state schools

Term dates and holidays for community and voluntary controlled schools are set by the local authority. For most schools the academic year is divided into three terms. However, some local authorities have introduced a year with six terms, each of similar length.

Other types of state schools

For other types of publicly funded schools, including the following, the dates are set by the governing body:

  • foundation schools
  • voluntary aided schools
  • academies
  • city technology colleges (CTCs)
  • city colleges for the technology of the arts

You can find these schools' websites and contact details by following the link below.

Independent schools

Independent schools set term and holiday dates themselves so you should contact them directly for information. You can find a listing of independent schools, including their contact details, on the Independent Schools Council (ISC) website.

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