School attendance and absence

What to do if your child is ill, taking holidays during term time and other reasons for absence from school.

When your child can take time off school

Your child can only miss school when:

  • they're too ill to go to
  • they have permission from the school to take time off

Unless they're ill, you cannot decide your child can miss school. You must get permission from your child’s headteacher to miss school during term time. Permission is only given in exceptional circumstances.

If your child's ill

If your child's ill and cannot go to school, let the school know as soon as possible. When they return, give them a written note explaining their absence.

If your child is often ill, ask your GP to confirm the situation with the school. You can also give the school information about any prescribed medicine.

If your child is off sick a lot without medical evidence, we expect the school to let our education welfare service know. You may also be asked for permission to refer your child to the school nurse.

Without evidence of your child’s illness, we may have to take legal action.

Holidays during term time

You need permission from the headteacher for your child to go on holiday during term time. Schools usually do not allow it.

Your child’s absence may be recorded as unauthorised if they go on holiday during term time without permission.

Other reasons for absence

Headteachers may allow children to take time off school in exceptional circumstances.

They will take into consideration:

  • your child’s attendance history
  • previous requests for leave in term time
  • the likely impact on your child’s education
  • individual circumstances