Term-time holidays on the up in England

08 May 2017

Family holidays during term time accounted for a quarter of unauthorised school absences in England, new data shows.


More than 800,000 children missed at least one day of school in 2015-16, despite the threat of fines, compared with just under 700,000 in the previous year.

Children in Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-east of England lost the most time to holiday, with an equivalent of 1.5 school ‘sessions’ missed by every pupil.

A session is defined as a morning or afternoon at school.

Bournemouth, Poole, Cornwall and Devon are among the areas with the highest percentage rise in holiday absences, while in Warrington and East Riding, family holidays made up almost half of all missed school sessions.

If a school deems an absence to be unauthorised, the council can fine parents £60 per child, which rises to £120 if it is not paid within 21 days.

But teachers have blamed the high price of holidays and said fines were a ‘blunt instrument’ as unauthorised holiday absences have continued to rise.

The Department for Education insisted that overall absence was at ‘historic lows’.

A spokeswoman said that children should not be taken out of school ‘without good reason’ and that every extra day of school missed‘ has a lasting effect on their life chances’.

‘We are supporting schools and local authorities to use their powers to tackle unauthorised absence,’ she added.


801,980 children missed one or more sessions of school for family holidays in 2015-16

691,910 in 2014-15

(Source: Department for Education)