Leave for Exceptional Circumstances

Last year changes to statutory legislation regarding pupil absence come into force: The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. The amendments to the pupil registration regulations make it clear that Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are ‘exceptional’ circumstances. They also remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of 10 school days. 

Under the new legislation the following absence requests will not meet the criteria for approval unless clear and specific ‘exceptional’ circumstances can be demonstrated:

  • Family holidays due to convenience (because of holiday trade, farming, parental work commitments etc)
  • Cheaper holidays in England and abroad
  • Visiting relatives 
  • Family day trips (to exhibitions, theatre, agricultural shows etc)
  • Visiting family/friends who have different holidays

Some examples of ‘exceptional’ circumstances that would be considered include:

  • Serious illness to a close family member
  • Funerals
  • Forces personnel on leave from a foreign posting
  • Representation in national or county sports teams
  • Other significant family events or circumstances

This list is not exhaustive and requests will be considered individually. Supporting evidence must be provided where appropriate. Requests should be received by the school at least four weeks prior to the date of absence where possible. The new regulations also highlight the responsibility on schools to issue fixed penalty notices for irregular attendance where a child is of statutory school age.

The new leave for exceptional circumstances application form can be found below

Leave for Exceptional Circumstances Application Form

A description of what might be considered as "exceptional circumstances" is provided by the National Association of Head Teachers and can be found below

Guidance on exceptional circumstances


For further information about unauthorised absences from school please click here

to go to the Cumbria County Council website.