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The UK school holidays headache

A recurring question from our clients with children relates to the school holidays system in England.

The peculiarity of the English school holidays system comes mainly from the fact that the choice of dates and the length of leave are not imposed centrally by the Department of Education.

As a matter of fact, it can vary depending on the place of residence and the selected school system (State vs Independent Education).

This can be tricky situations for families who have children educated in different schools or Boroughs.

What happens in the State schools system?

Students enrolled in the State system have 13 weeks of vacation per year.

The holidays are organised as follows:

– One week in November (Autumn Term half term)

– Two weeks for Christmas (Christmas Holidays)

– One week in February (Spring Term half term)

– Two weeks for Easter (Easter Holiday)

– One week end in May (Summer Term half term)

– The Summer Holidays begin around the 20th of July

On top of this, every school will allow its staff 5 days of training, called Inset days.

During these days, schools’ sessions are not required to be run, and the pupils do not attend schools but the staff are required to attend for training or to complete administration tasks.

The number of school holidays is consistent within the UK but the start date may vary accordingly to the Local Education Authorities, i.e. the local administrative authorities. Just to remind you, there are 150 different Local Authorities in the U.K.

In London alone, these dates may be different between Boroughs.

What about the Independent schools system?

It is fair to say that the Private school system will have more generous holidays than the State system.

Each private school will be free to set the start date and the length of its school holidays.

For example, a school attended by my children had a 3 weeks break for Christmas, and almost one month break for Easter.

In addition to these two calendars, the French Schools would follow the French Term Dates, which will be adding more complexity for busy parents.

How about additional holidays?

As a conclusion, I will point out that for Primary classes, independent schools would likely authorize children to take some additional holidays outside the Term Dates.

But don’t even think about taking an extra day in the State System!

Unauthorized absences will be taken very seriously by the Local Authorities (schools are required to report any unexcused absences of students), and parents can be fined between £ 60 and £ 2,500, depending on the prejudice level.

Last year, local authorities have issued more than £ 50,000 penalty fines to parents who were too casual with the Term Dates diary.

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