Penalty notice for unauthorised holidays

This is my first post please be kind my punctuation and spelling is not great

My husband and I have just received penalty notices for my 12 year old ASD son as we took him on holiday during term time my son can not deal with crowded places and lots of over excited children we obviously want our son to experience every opportunity we can give him but find if we take him away during school holidays it is too stressful and overwhelming for him so we have no choice but to take him during school term time when it is quieter and he can enjoy his break away. My son is in mainstream school and the school are well aware of why we take him away during term time. Has anyone else had this issue and is there anything we can do about the penalty notice as it states we have no statutory right to appeal but feel there is exceptional circumstances for the leave 

  • You say the school knows of why you take your son away during term time, but did you specifically inform the school beforehand that you would be taking your son away for those particular dates? Did you request reasonable adjustments regarding the absence policy? If you took your son away without informing the school beforehand, that's one thing, but if the school knew your circumstances and still gave you a notice, that's pretty strange.

  • We informed the school and requested the leave back in September last year for March this year they are well aware of his needs and we stated on the holiday form why we were taking him during school term is it the school who issue the notices I was under the impression it was the local authority x

  • I work in a school. The local authority makes the rules on absence. The school follows the rules and issues the penalty notice. Exceptional circumstances tend to be funerals etc... If you pm me, i'll send you a copy of our attendance policy.

  • I understand most schools have different policies they decide what they will authorise or not  it’s at the head teachers discretion if he wanted to authorise it on these grounds it is my understanding that due to my sons extra needs he could have x

  • Hi Trishy,

    Sounds like you have had some good advice from the community.  In addition, I am going to give you links to the NAS Education Rights information because I think it will prove useful especially if you need to appeal the fine:

    You may want to contact our Education Rights Service who provides information, support and advice on educational provision and entitlements. Please see the following link for further information:

    The following article contains a lot of helpful information about education for a child with an autism:  - this includes information regarding getting extra support for your child in their education setting.

    It can help to pass on information specifically for education professionals about autism spectrum disorders. The following link contains information written for education professionals:

    Best wishes,


  • Hi.  I think its disgraceful that parents of special needs children get penalties for taking their children out of school to go on holiday.  Its a lack of understanding and I feel its just another way of  local authorities making money out of people.

    I think policies should be changed to take this into account.  I have taken my son away in school holidays but he really struggles too as everywhere is busy and a lot of waiting is required which he struggles to do.  When we went to a theme park in Spain other kids were climbing under and over barriers to get into the queues first which pushed us even further back.  It was just too stressful for all of us.

    I would say you have exceptional circumstances to appeal but whether you get anywhere is another matter.  I have battles with my local authority all the time as I have to fight to get any help and support from them.

    Best of luck.  I hope you get the penalty overturned. Xx

  • Thankyou 

    we have contacted the local authority that the fine came from but have had no reply or acknowledgement from them we have been adviced from people we know to contact our local mp as he is very good when it comes to disabilities etc so we emailed him yesterday we have also contacted our local Sen iass but again have had nothing back it is looking like we will end up paying this fine as we can’t afford to wait till after the date it doubles £120 is bad enough if we don’t pay and it goes to court we just can’t afford the money we will have to pay if we lose. We are also looking into changing our sons school as they have been promising us for 2 years now to apply for his ehcp and additional funding and still have not done it keep coming up with different excuses we want to send him to a special Sen school that would understand his needs so much more but can’t do this until we have the ehcp in place so in the meantime while we wait for them to do what they have promised my son is suffering :( 

  • Oh my gosh, that school sounds horrendous, get your son out ASAP!! They are not meeting his needs for sure!! 

    It's a shame about the fine but by the sounds of it it's the type of thing that school do.

    I wish your family and especially your son luck for the future, don't give up, not all schools are bad 

    Kez x

  • I have just seen that the original post post was four years ago when HMG was still getting up tight about term-time holidays ... hopefully this was resolved. some schools will be looking at getting their attendance statistics back on track, and FPNs may rear their ugly head again. Although I am a former EWO, this reply is for information only - if it happens to you, please, seek qualified legal advice!

    With respect to Trishy, the LA does not make the rules -  the >Statutory guidance< is contained in " School Attendance : Guidance for maintained schools, academies, schools and local authorities "  (which in turn lists the legislation) - This current to the end of the 2022 school year.  

    The Head Teacher alone may authorise absence (although in practice this may be delegated to other staff, the Head is still responsible. [Education (Pupil Registration)(England) Regs 2006 Reg 7(1) and 7(3)(B) apply.]

     The penalty notice is in respect of an "unautorised absence" contrary to s.444(1)  Education Act 1996. by paying the FPN you are admitting that you have broken the law.  However ... If your child has ASD and needs to take a break as a "reasonable accomodation then the Head should authorise it.  I am not a lawyer, but as the Head Teacher has personal responsibility for authorising absence, presumably they are personally liable if they exercise their discretion without considering the Public Sector Equality Duty. That might focus their attention! You may find the HT will choose to authorise the absence ...

    The FPN will have been issued either by the governing body or the LEA depending on local arrangements. Contact either the Courts Officer at the Education Welfare Service, or the Head Teacher, or both, and ask for the notice to be withdrawn. For a prosection under s.444(1) will involve the authority in a lot of time and expense, and they may back down. If they refuse, seek expert advice immediately.

  • IF you have not replied to the penalty notice, then this bit of rare and useful law applies.

    They HAVE to get a reply out of you before taking enforcement action. It's called "joinder" in law,and it's a basic neccesity.

    Think about that for a moment...

    Do not apply this knowledge to speed camera notices, T.V. licence demands etc. or other penalty notices however, unless are really alienated from our society as it really needs your money from all those extra little "digs". This is way different to those people on you tube who argue with bailiffs, in those cases "joinder" has been established, and the people are now engaged in a "controversy" usually because they answered a letter.

    BUT if you don't agree with a penalty notice or similar, on political or other grounds, "ignorance" is a very powerful tool. In the case of a speeding camera notice, when ignored you get a second more threatening notice. If you do not break at that point then you get a third notice, and some of those can be terrifying, but if you wait for the fourth one it doe not arrive. And they don't seem to keep any record. The system has been extensively tested over a greater than twenty year period, and unbelievably works as I describe. 

    It's part of the criminal "just us" system where "those in the know" can drive as fast as they bloody well like in tehri huge powerful cars with almost no chance of incurring the costs and penalties that afflict the rest of the population. Next time one blows past you on the motorway, now you know how they get away with it. 

    "Ignorance" is no excuse, it's a functional legal weapon! 

    Of course, it is a weapon that is nullified by personal service, but since signed for post doesn't actually require your personal signature any more, even that just got a whole mot more expensive and difficult to implement for systems that rely on your co-operation.  

    If the system is unfair, then always remember that they need you to play the game, or in this case respond to the letter, otherwise the game can't get started.

    NOW. It could be argued that it is extremely irresponsible of me to publish such a workaround in a public forum. People could use this knowledge to avoid legitimate penalties. (and probably will). BUT in your case you could use it to ward off an unfair penalty, and have a legitimate need to know what is behind that penalty notice...

    There is a principle that our laws operate with "the consent of the governed" which as some of the "Freemen" know is not always followed, but it underpins all but the oldest of our legal systems. You give that consent, automatically by responding. All (or most of the criminal classes learn this, and this, and other legal tricks is why it's so hard for the poor police force (when they do make an effort) to get the smarter or well connected criminals convicted.

    BUT most GOOD people (like yourselves appear to be) are not criminals and would not converse with the criminal class when they get an opportunity, and equally are not part of the ruling classes either, so they dutifully answer the letters, and pay the subsequent fines, fees, and tariffs, that keep this deeply flawed, over complicated and under effective legal and money harvesting system working where YOU are the victims!!   

    I am not suggesting anyone break the law, but I am telling people the generally hidden bit of knowledge that you have a lot of choice in when and how you engage with it, or even in many, many case IF you choose to engage with it. This sort of knowledge is generally hidden because it is widely believed by the people who know that the average individual has no moral compass, and will use it to avoid any and all just penalties.

    NOW a small subset of 1 in 50 of the population just got exposed to it, and the "conditioning" will ensure that most people reject it, so really it's only you guys and a handful of other readers who are likely to use it at all, so I feel quite justified in hitting "reply".