Taking children out of school for a festival

Can you justify taking children out of school to attend a festival?

UPDATE: New rules make it illegal to take your children out of school for a festival. READ MORE HERE.

This is an issue I am sure many parents have faced since schools are tightening up on authorised absences.  Some schools will authorise time off in term time in exceptional circumstances.  Some more enlightened Heads understand what a wonderful experience certain festivals can be for a child.  Others will refuse point blank, and some may even fine families for taking their children out of school without authorisation.

Having worked in a school, I have encountered many parents taking their children out of school for a family holiday for all sorts of reasons.  Sometimes this is because parents can only get holiday at certain times, but mainly it is due to the cost.  We all know it’s cheaper in term time!

However, when it comes to festivals, it is a different situation. First of all, they are on that particular date of the year, which can’t be changed – so obviously that dictates when you can go.  And secondly, as festivals take place over a weekend you don’t need to take many days out of school. If you are local to the festival it may only be 2 days they are out of school for example the one we are attending is only an hour away meaning our daughter can still attend nursery in the morning so it is only the Friday she won’t be in, and if we come back on the Sunday, she could attend nursery on the Monday (if she’s not too exhausted!). Also festivals are an excellent experience for children, teaching them new skills and confidence that are unique to the setting.

Some believe that festivals are a cultural event and therefore will cite that as a reason for taking their children out of school, for example for some families have a strong connection with Glastonbury and it becomes a family tradition to go. Glastonbury, with its huge dedicated Kidzfield (the biggest free children’s’ festival in Europe), strong environmental awareness, and wealth of different experiences on offer, is an amazingly rich experience for children.

It can be argued that these days, with the popularity of festivals and now there are 100’s to choose from that this is not an excuse any more.  You can attend a festival in August, therefore fitting in with the school holidays, however it may not fit with you. Obviously with the cost of fuel and other expenses, travelling to a festival further afield because it is in August may not be financially viable for many families.

Here is our advice:

1. Check with your school’s individual policy and the school cluster policy.  This information can be accessed from your schools website.  Every area is different and while some schools authorise, others may not.

2. Speak to the head teacher – at the end of the day it is at their individual discretion as they take into account your child’s overall attendance, your child’s age, the time of year and the circumstances.

3. Plan ahead – It really is best to sound out the school first about your plans so you don’t buy tickets then find you risk unauthorised absence by going.

4. Seek out local festivals or ones in the holidays for you to enjoy with your children. Check out our festival listings for what’s going on in your area that may be of interest.

It would be really interesting to hear your views and experiences on this so please add your comments.

Further Reading:

Get Festivals on the National Curriculum!

What do children learn at festivals? (Early Years – EYFS)

How to choose the right festival for your family


6 thoughts on “Taking children out of school for a festival

  1. I love this post. We are in a very lucky position in that we have a very sympathetic headteacher on the few occasions we have taken our kids out of school. On one of the leave request forms she wrote what a wonderful reason to take them out of school. However the recent change in legislation means she is more restricted in what constitutes exceptional circumstances. I had been waiting for kids to be a little older before introducing them to the big one (Glasto), was considering next year…now really have to plead my case!!

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