Requests for Pupil Absence Due to Exceptional Circumstances

Under Section 444 of the Education Act 1996, parents of a child of compulsory school age are under a legal duty to ensure the regular attendance of that child at the school where he/ she is a registered pupil.  Failure to fulfil this duty may result in the Local Authority prosecuting the parents.

The head in each school reserves the right to make individual judgements as to what constitutes exceptional circumstances.

At St. Aidan’s, we will interpret 'exceptional' in this context as being of unique and significant emotional, educational or spiritual value to the child, which outweighs the loss of teaching time.  This might include the following:

  • A parent or grandparent is seriously/terminally ill and the absence proposed is likely to be the last such event together;
  • There has recently been a death or other significant trauma in the family and it is felt that an immediate absence might help the child concerned better deal with the situation;
  • The absence is a unique one off never to be repeated occasion which can only take place at the time requested.
  • Attending the wedding of a family member
  • The birth of another baby within the family can be seen as a special occasion


As a rule, the financial factor when a parent claims that they are unable to afford a holiday during school holidays when prices may be significantly higher than in term time, does not constitute an exceptional circumstance.

Similarly, the nature of the proposed holiday cannot be taken as exceptional circumstances.

We will not grant exceptional leave if:

  • A child’s attendance record over the previous 20 week period is less than 96% - even if any previous absence was due to unavoidable causes such as illness;
  • The period of leave coincides with the start of term, or is near to or coincides with tests, SATs, exams or other significant events in the school calendar.

When leave is granted, it will normally be for one absence in any one school year.




TEL:  01737 556036

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