Pupil term-time absence: what you need to know

Term-time absences can only be granted in 'exceptional circumstances'. Understand what you need to consider when deciding whether a circumstance is 'exceptional' and making a judgement on how long the pupil needs to be away from school.

Updated
on 2 July 2024
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School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 1283
Contents
  1. Only grant a leave of absence in certain circumstances
  2. What counts as an 'exceptional circumstance'?
  3. Decide on the length of the leave of absence 
  4. You can approve authorised absence at your discretion

Only grant a leave of absence in certain circumstances

You should only grant a leave of absence during term-time for:

  • Pupils taking part in a regulated performance or employment abroad
  • Attending an interview for another school, college, or for employment 
  • Study leave
  • A temporary, time-limited part-time timetable
  • Other exceptional circumstancesRead more about these in the next section of this article

Any requests for term-time absence must be made in advance. If parents or carers have not applied for the leave of absence in advance, you must record the absence as unauthorised.

Pupils of non-compulsory school age, such as those in sixth form, can be absent for any sessions they are not timetabled to attend.

This is set out in paragraphs 37 and 39 of the DfE's statutory guidance on working together to improve school attendance.

You must decide whether an absence request constitutes an 'exceptional circumstance' based on

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