New rules make it illegal to take children out of school for holidays

P1060830In September 2013, the rules on taking children out of school in term time changed. Schools are no longer allowed to grant term time holiday for festivals.

Before September 2013, headteachers could approve absences of up to 10 days a year for family holidays in “special circumstances” – which for many families included festivals during term time. The new rules, however, state that absences are only allowed for “exceptional circumstances” such as funerals of family members.

Unauthorised absence is illegal, and so if you decide to take your children to Glastonbury for example, you will be breaking the law.There is a penalty fine of £60 per parent per child – so you may just choose to pay the fine. If not paid within seven days, the fine rises to £120. Refusing to pay this can see you facing court action and a fine of up to £2,500.

Of course, I can understand the argument that is made by the Government – that if children miss their schooling every year they could fall behind, and it disrupts classes. However I believe that our children benefit from these festivals, that they are important cultural events, that they learn a huge amount about science, nature, music and community. Although they say that missing school will affect their performance in exams, how about children whose parents spend more time with them on their education? I believe that festival goers are more likely to spend time with their children to help them catch up with any work their children have missed, and more. If these absences were properly authorised this would be easier to do; instead realistically this will cause many parents to call their children in sick.

Does this mean that legally the kids’ field at Glastonbury will need to become for under 5s only? I’m worried by the implications of this ruling for all family festival goers.

I’m extremely interested in the views of other parents over this. Please write in with your feedback.

Are you a parent taking your children to Glastonbury or other term time festivals this year?

Have you submitted authorisation requests or will you call your children in sick?

Have your authorisation requests been accepted?

Do you intend to pay the fine?

Will you be getting notes on the curriculum they will miss so you can make sure they catch up?

Is there anyone who has taken a child to a festival that thinks it has negatively affected their education?

Thank you for your views and comments!

Note: Festival Kidz does not recommend calling your children in sick or breaking the law in any way. Please see the Government website for a full explanation of the new ruling.



16 thoughts on “New rules make it illegal to take children out of school for holidays

  1. My 5 children are all grown up now, we took all five every year to Glastonbury Festival, it was their only holiday. At first the holiday was allowed and then they took unauthorised leave. It was the best time of their lives and affordable, I would do the same today and pay the fines, although with 5 children it would prove expensive. Their life experiences were so enriched, they remember the holidays as one of the best times of their childhood. Schools are blind, ignorant and arrogant not to recognise how the experience enriches their lives and education. Our school maybe had one theatre company visiting the school per year, at Glastonbury Festival they were mesmerised all day by enchanting, magical and amazing acts and productions, utterly unforgettable times.

  2. We go every year. I have in the past applied for absence which has been denied for the festival so my boys are always signed off sick. One friday a year off school is not going to harm their education especially when what they learn at Glastonbury is far more diverse and dynamic learning experience that a lazy Friday June school day when they have finished their exams already that term and are all but twiddling their thumbs.

  3. I have been taking my son to festivals since he was a newborn. He is currently 3 and due to start school next year. I drop my working hours to tues/wed/thurs during the festival season and we go away most weekends, camping and festivals. I am a sole parent and this time today is precious. It is wonderful watching my son learning and growing in a safe environment. Festivals support so many aspects of development and we wouldn’t change things for the world. I will certainly be taking my child out of class. Childhood is a precious and sacred thing and we will continue to fill our summers with memories that will last a lifetime. Fining parents for taking their child out for school in these instances are ridiculous. We are the ones who raise our children, not the government. These “rules” are a breach of our rights. Education does not just take place in the classroom.

  4. I will be calling my 2 children in sick for glastonbury 2015, aged 9 and 4. They are my children and will benefit hugely culturally from the festival, every child should go to this festival as its magical, so the 4 days off they will be having is my decision they are my children and will gain educationally not lose.

  5. I have indeed taken my children out of school for festivals…and will do so again.
    Children’s education is a two way process and involves more than sitting in a class room. For example, my eldest was 9 when i took him to his (and my) first festival. It was there he sat in a field playing an old piano. From that day he hasn’t stopped playing and the school have told me he is the most talented musicians they have ever had attend their school. now that wouldn’t have happened without going to festivals. My youngest has Autism and as a single parent family it can take its toll. Festivals are the only time we tend to chill out as a family and spoil ourselves to be free of judgement.

  6. My husband and I have enjoyed Glastonbury throughout my pregnancy days whilst carrying my 2 boy’s and they are now 7 and 5yrs daughter is 15yrs and being going since she was 5yrs. This is our main holiday and will continue to be irrespective of school fines. All 3 children have been unauthorised!! The reason it is our main holiday is that the children continously talk about it long after the event. They excel as their learning skills take on a new level and their eyes are wide open to the wonderful happenings at Glastonbury. I would love to know how many MPs will be taking their children??

  7. We have been taking our Son to Glastonbury since he was 3.
    I have already filled out my holiday request form for this year and been in to discuss it with the Headteacher. She has had to list it as unauthorised on his attendance but she is not submitting it to the council for a fine!!
    I could have kissed her!! Haha

  8. General criteria for the issuing of a Penalty Notice

    A Penalty Notice will only be issued to a parent(s) if the pupil has at least ten, half-day unauthorised absences recorded against their name within the previous six months. The ten or more unauthorised absences will be included within the timeframe quoted within the Penalty Notice.

    1. I’ve had a look and the rules seem to vary depending on which area you live in. I’d recommend for everyone to check the information on the relevant local council’s website.

  9. I would be interested to know where the fines end up. The official concern is the child’s education and falling behind. Most festivals mean missing three days of school work max (assuming start thurs and off mon, not many festivals need this amount of time.) If the child is allowed to catch up on whatever is missed within a reasonable time frame thereafter then surely no loss has occurred. I don’t buy the class disruption, otherwise school trips, illness and suspensions would be at fault too. The fine is another levy charged at the general public by a government agency. Whereas private industry get their pound of flesh during the school holidays by increasing costs. Both need serious investigation. As a festival performer I see first hand the amount of stimulus, exercise and experience these children get. Interaction with communities, be it temporary, is a significant development in growth.

  10. I’m just about to take mine out of school for 3 weeks to go to Australia. Doing this trip in the school holidays is just completely unafordable (twice the price) so it’s a decision we had to make. Even the fine is not going to add up to the £2000 additional airfares. The cultural experience of both travelling and festivals is such an amazing and enriching opportunity for kids. A few days out of ‘the system’ is really not going to do a child any harm. Our government is so backwards in it’s attitude to many things, this is one of them.

  11. Can we also make sure that when the kids are ALLOWED school holidays that that period of extortionate prices of Hotels, holiday camps, ferry prices are also susceptible to a £60 fine .

  12. Oh I forgot to say there are lots of great festivals in school holidays that we will be attending, this year we already have tickets to Wildreness and are thinking of Camp Bestival.

  13. as you know i was one of the founding members of festival kidz back in the early days… the reason for the idea was because i saw the huge value in how taking kids to festivals,ok so glastonbury is not for everyone but i wanted to empowrr parets in taking this space in their life where everyone could be free and wild and dance and sing with no rules of where to be or where to go… both kids have been going since day dot… arabella was at glasto age 5 days old after a c-section… it was the best place for us for healing and love and laughter.. i will pay the fine and i will forever take my kids out – its the most magical place for them – every year we see them develop in the most magical ways that carry no value, they can have the fine.. screw the system they have NO idea what is best for our kids… i know whats best for my kids… that is to see that there is a BIG FAT ROUTE of of their matrix… its called freedom, and glastonbury represents all of that for us :))))

  14. Last year I won (!)tickets to Glastonbury and managed to get the time off agreed by the school.

    This year DD starts her GCSE study so I doubt I would try to take her out even if I could.

    The tickets to Glastonbury are pretty pricey and hard to get so I imagaine that people will just factor in the £60 tbh, though it might put poorer families off.

    If DD was 10 I’d still go and just pay the fine.

    I think it’s stupid and wrong though, the schools should be targetting children that don’t do well AND have poor attendance not a blanket ban on all leave. But since when was the gov or school sensible?

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