Holidays in Term Time and Penalty Notices

1st March 2024

Dear Parents and Carers at St Cuthbert’s,

Holiday Penalty Notices and General Attendance

In recent months, school has shared the importance of attendance and the impact of consistent attendance on children and their learning. Whilst we are seeing an increase in school’s overall attendance, we are receiving more ‘Leave of Absence’ requests for holidays during term time.

Attendance is a national focus for the Department for Education as many children are missing their legal entitlement to education. At St Cuthbert’s, we do understand that going away during school holidays can be expensive and we also understand that sometimes there are specific circumstances whereby children will not be in school. However, taking holidays during term time is having a significant impact on children’s education both nationally and locally.

Considering the current climate and following guidance from Newcastle Local Authority and new government national expectations, I am sharing that all holidays taken during term time, will now be subject to referral to the local authority for consideration of a penalty notice (fine).

For your information, any Leave of Absence Requests already submitted, and prior to this letter being published (4th March 2024), will not be referred for penalty notices.  

This was never a route that St Cuthbert’s wanted to go down but the increase in families taking their children out of school for holidays has risen alarmingly over the last year and the negative impact on a child’s education cannot be ignored:

Why attendance matters:

  • Less than 5 days’ absence       =  98%+ attendance
  • 14 days’ absence (approx.)     =  93.5% attendance
  • 20 days’ absence (approx.)     =  90% attendance
  • More than 30 days’ absence    =  88% attendance
Red Zone: Under 90%

Students in the red zone are more likely to underachieve, find making friendships difficult and misbehave.  Legal action may also be taken against Parents/Carers of Red Zone pupils.

Amber Zone: 91% - 97%

Students in this zone are still at risk of underachieving due to the absence level.  Students who miss school regularly are more likely to suffer from school related stress.  If your child in in the Amber Zone we will contact you to complete a Parent Contract to help avoid attendance falling into the Red Zone.

Green Zone: 98% - 100%

We expect students to have Green attendance throughout their education.  Those in the Green are more likely to do well in examinations, have better job opportunities and can develop strong friendships within school.

What to do if your child is ill

Many of our families already follow school’s policy for absence due to ill health. The following information is to support anyone new to our school community and to ‘refresh’ school’s expectations.

If your child is too unwell to come into school, please contact the school office via email or telephone as soon as possible. Please ensure that you contact us on each day of your child’s absence unless there are medical recommendations from the NHS to stay off school for specific child hood illnesses.  If no contact is made, we are legally required to make every effort to speak to you and check on your child’s well-being, including making home visits where appropriate. Any unexplained absence will be recorded as ‘unauthorised’ and may be discussed further with the Local Authority Attendance and Inclusion team.


Our school day begins promptly at 8.45am and our gates open at approximately 8.30am. On the advice from the Local Authority, school closes their register at 8.55am so any arrivals after this time are recorded as unauthorised.

We believe in home and school working together to provide the very best learning opportunities for every child. Our school continues to support all families where attendance and punctuality is a barrier. Support from other agencies is available and we can help families to access this.

Please contact the school office if you wish to discuss this matter further.

Best wishes,

Mrs Bullerwell



St Cuthbert's Catholic Primary School is part of the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust

A company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales under company registration number No 7841435.

Registered Office: Fenham Hall Drive, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 9YH