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Sowing seeds of success: Growing courageous learners

Growing Courageous Learners.

Exceptional Leave for pupils


Absence from School for Exceptional Circumstances Information for Parents

Exceptional Circumstances Request form for pupils (PDF)

Exceptional Circumstances Request form for pupils (word)

  • You are required under the Education Act (1996) to ensure your child attends school regularly.
  • There is, however, a discretionary power held by Head teachers to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances. Please note this is not an entitlement. The Headteacher will only authorise absence in line with Elevate’s Attendance Policy.
  • Headteachers will not authorise absences if they believe it is to the detriment of a child’s education.
  • Please note that supporting documents to aid decision making must be submitted at the time of your request for absence.
  • There is no longer a provision in law for Head teachers to authorise an absence for the purpose of a term time holiday.


If your request is authorised, you are required to ensure your child catches up on any missed school work. This is your responsibility and school are not obliged to provide work for your child to complete.

Any unauthorised absence will be recorded on your child’s attendance records. This may result in legal proceedings against you, either through a Penalty Notice or the Magistrates’ Court.

We advise that you do not plan for your child to be absent from school without gaining prior agreement from their Academy first. Headteachers cannot retrospectively authorise absence from school under any circumstance.

Examples of Exceptional Circumstances where Leave may be Granted Include:

  • Family Bereavement including the funeral of a parent, grandparent or sibling;
  • Sudden loss of housing (up to a maximum of 3 days);
  • Weddings of parents and siblings;
  • An absence for an agreed religious observance by the religious body to which the parents belong;
  • Children of service personnel who are about to go on deployment;
  • Situations where the Academy authorises absence, e.g., special occasions such as theatre/sporting/musical performance;
  • When a family needs to spend time together to support each other during or after a crisis;
  • Other compassionate circumstances that can be confidentially shared with the Academy.


Please note: Head teachers would not be expected to class any term time holiday as exceptional

The decision of the Head teacher is final.

Penalty Notices

Under the Anti Social Behaviour Act (2003) the local authority and schools have statutory powers to tackle poor school attendance and/or unauthorised absences. An unauthorised absence is any absence that the Headteacher has not given permission for or where an explanation has not been provided by the parent. If your child accrues 10 sessions of unauthorised absence you may be liable for a penalty notice (1 days absence equals 2 sessions and a 5 day absence is equal to 10 sessions etc.).

Penalty Notices will be used as a deterrent to prevent a pattern of unauthorised absences developing. They will be issued by post direct to the home of a parent after possibly just 1 warning, or in the case of absences without acceptable cause, warnings may not be given.

This includes children caught on truancy sweeps, persistent late arrival after the close of registration or unauthorised absence that has not been authorised as an absence from school for exceptional circumstances. In these cases the warning is given on the absence request form and detailed within this information leaflet and no written warning will be given.

Where parents do not follow school procedures of submitting a request and simply remove their child without seeking prior approval, a warning may not be given. Parents must complete a request for exceptional leave form and submit this to the Academy, allowing for sufficient time to enable the Academy to consider the request and inform the parent of the decision.

Fines are issued for unauthorised absence of 5 or more days and each school day is divided into 2 registration periods. For example, if your child is absent for one day this equals 2 sessions and a five day absence is equal to 10 sessions.

If your request is declined and you still take your child out of school each parent within your household may be issued with a £60 penalty notice for each child you have taken out of school. If a penalty notice remains unpaid after 21 days it will increase to £120. If after 28 days it remains unpaid you may be summonsed to appear before Magistrates to explain why your child has unauthorised school absences and you may be liable for a fine of up to £1000.

Support and guidance on attendance is always available and if you have any questions about this, or if you need help to achieve an improvement, please contact your child’s school to discuss this.