FACT CHECK: Nick Gibb on term-time holidays

This morning, schools minister Nick Gibb told Parliament that a change in government policy had led to fewer school days missed due to authorised family holidays.

Below, Schools Week will check that fact, using statistics released this morning by the Department for Education.


Has the proportion of absences due to authorised holiday decreased?


Yes. Figures released this morning show authorised family holidays in autumn 2011 and 2012 accounted for 6.4 and 6.2 per cent, respectively, of absences.

This figure has decreased since autumn 2013, when it was at 2.3 per cent, to just 1.1 per cent this autumn.


So he’s right, then?


Well, we will give him that. But when you look at unauthorised absences due to family holiday – that has had the reverse impact.

In 2011, 2.9 per cent of unauthorised absences were due to family holiday that was not agreed with the school. In autumn 2015, it was up to 4.2 per cent.

Or, in other words, 270,220 absences were due to family holidays that were not authorised, and 73,395 were given permission.

This graph shows this a bit more clearly:

Authorised unauthorised absence

Has the policy impacted on term-time holidays at all then?


Kind of. Overall, the number of absences due to holidays has dropped since the policy was introduced. But, more parents are taking their kids out of school without permission from school.

So, it can’t really be claimed as a win for the government.


Latest education roles from

Work Placement Officer

Work Placement Officer

Barnsley College

Speech & Language Therapist

Speech & Language Therapist

Carshalton College

Physics GCSE Tutor (Variable Hours)

Physics GCSE Tutor (Variable Hours)

Richmond and Hillcroft Adult & Community College

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

EA to the CEO & Senior Directors

Haberdashers’ Academies Trust South

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Chief Executive Officer Cornwall Education Learning Trust (CELT)

Satis Education

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Head of Faculty (History and RS)

Ark Greenwich Free School

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Marion leese

    Never harmed my children having holidays in term time particularly in primary school. They all went on to go to university and get degrees.

  2. The Government makes it more difficult for heads to authorise holidays in term time. Result: authorised holidays decrease. There’s a surprise.
    But unauthorised holidays increase. Who would have thought it?
    Nick Gibb thinks this demonstrates the effectiveness of Government policy about term time holidays.

  3. It totally infuriates me that these rules don’t apply to the families of children in independent schools even though they already have longer holidays – I’d love to hear one of the ministers making these decisions explain how that’s not blatent hypocrisy!