Five million school days lost to unauthorised holiday absence
Frank Young, 27 March 2023
The top-line national (England only) headlines are:
- In 2021/22 there were 5,148,548 school days lost to unauthorised term time holidays – this is a record number. In 2015/16 the figure was 3,651,978 a jump of almost 41% – the next highest was 2018/19 just before the pandemic.
- Since September last year to February this year there have been almost 2.6 million school days (2,596,318) lost because of unauthorised term time holidays.
- Primary school age children are 2.5 times more likely to be taken out of school for a term time holiday than secondary school age children. There is a direct relationship between the age of the child and the likelihood of missing school for a term time holiday – the younger the child the more likely you are to miss school for a holiday.
- Councils are unlikely to fine parents:
- In the school year 2018/19 there were 288,239 fines issued to parents for unauthorised term time holiday.
- For the latest school year 2021/22 there were 186,281 fines issued for unauthorised term time holiday.
The year to date:
- Since September 2022 to 20th February 2023 there have been 3,564,998 primary school ‘sessions’ (half days) missed through unauthorised holiday absence and 1,627,638 secondary school session – combined this is just under 2.6 million school days (2,596,318).
Total number of sessions missed from unauthorised term time holiday 2015 – 2022:
By Pupil Year Group:
- The table below shows that unauthorised term time holiday is much more prevalent among younger pupils, and that it was much more common pre-Covid than during. Primary school pupils are far more likely to take unauthorised term time holiday than secondary school pupils.
- In the school year 2018/19 there were 288,239 fines issued to parents for unauthorised term time holiday. This is 5.6% of the 5,132,000 million full days missed. 
- For the latest the school year 2021/22 there were 186,281 fines issued for unauthorised term time holiday.
- The five councils who gave out the most fines all gave at least 5,000 fines in 2021/22. They were Essex (7,877), Bradford (7,083), Lancashire (6,232), Kent (6,002) and Manchester (5,604), Leeds (5,192)
- Six councils gave 30 fines or fewer and three councils (Warrington, Isles of Scilly, City of London) gave out no fines at all.
Sessions possible per unauthorised holiday absence
- The table below shows the incidence of unauthorised holiday for the top/bottom 20 local authorities. Bradford has the most, with nearly 1 per cent of all sessions being unauthorised holidays.
- Some of the top local authorities for number of sessions of unauthorised holiday (Bradford, Birmingham) remain near the top when adjusting for how many sessions possible there were in the local authority.
- Some of the top LAs for unauthorised holiday are far lower when adjusting for size, for example Kent is third for unauthorised holiday absence, but only 113th/152 when adjusting for the rate of unauthorised absence, compared to possible sessions.
Unauthorised term time holiday absence- by total figure (top/bottom 20):