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Absence during term time

Absence during term-time

Parents should:

  • call the absence line, 0203 745 7411, on the first morning of all absences before 9.30am, telling us the reason for being away;
  • send in a note - by hand or email – telling us the reason for being away when they return to school;
  • keep in touch by telephone, letter or email, if a child is away from school for a longer period;
  • tell us about any planned absences in advance. Only request leave of absence if it is for an exceptional circumstance. Complete the leave of absence form (below).

Every half-day absence must be labelled by the school as either ‘authorised’ or ‘unauthorised’:

  • Authorised absence. An absence is authorised when parents tell us an allowable reason for being away from school. Allowable reasons include:
    • being too unwell to come to school;
    • emergency medical or dental appointments;
    • religious events, when one day each year will be authorised;
    • visits to another school, tests or exams;
    • any other ‘exceptional circumstances’, explained below. 
  • Unauthorised absence . An absence is unauthorised when a child is away from school for reasons that are not allowed. By law, unauthorised absences are an offence and can be liable to legal action or a fixed penalty fine. Unauthorised reasons include:
    • parents keeping children off school unnecessarily,
    • absences that have not been properly explained,
    • travel during term-time, including family holidays, that have not been agreed,
    • repeated or persistent non-specific illness, for example, ‘poorly/unwell’,
    • absence of other siblings if one child is ill,
    • absence because a parent is ill,
    • oversleeping,
    • inadequate clothing/uniform,
    • confusion over school term and holiday dates,
    • medical and/or dental appointments of more than half a day without very good reason,
    • child’s and/or family birthdays,
    • any routine family event or trip, for example, shopping.
    • where the reason for absence is given as illness and occurs either side of a school holiday, medical proof will be sought. Without this proof the absence will not be authorised.


The school may instruct the Local Authority to issue a Fixed-Penalty notice for any unauthorised travel during term-time.

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