Holidays and School/Organisational Trips Abroad/Outside the UK
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter applies to all holidays and school trips outside the UK for all children in care.
For children and young people going on holiday the Holiday Risk Assessment Form should be completed.
Under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, the previous ability of headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a holiday during term time in 'special circumstances' of up to ten school days leave per year has been removed. The 2013 Regulations make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are 'exceptional circumstances'.
For organisational trips, it should be read in conjunction with Activities Procedure.
AMENDMENTIn September 2017, a link to the Holiday Risk Assessment Form was added to this chapter (above).
1. Holidays Abroad
Where there is a proposal for a Child Looked After to go on holiday or a school/organisational trip abroad, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday/trip, satisfy him or herself that the child's welfare will be safeguarded during the holiday and seek the views of the child and parent as soon as possible.
The social worker should ascertain whether inoculations will be necessary and if so, seek the consent of the child and parents for these at the same time.
If the parents consent, their consent must be obtained in writing.
If the social worker considers the holiday should go ahead, he/she should seek the approval of the Services Manager to the holiday.
The social worker's written request for such approval should include information about the length, purpose and arrangements for the holiday/trip; the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the staff/carer; the likely cost and how it is to be funded. The request for approval may be accompanied by a request for financial support and should always be accompanied by the child's up to date Care Plan, Placement Plan and, where applicable, Pathway Plan.
Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should obtain legal advice as to whether the holiday/trip can go ahead. Where the legal advice indicates the holiday/trip is possible, the approval of the Services Manager can still be sought. The request for such approval should include the legal advice given.
Written confirmation of the Services Manager's decision, together with the reasons, should be provided to the parent.
If approved, the holiday/trip arrangements should be included in the Placement Information Record.
The social worker should arrange for the child to be inoculated as advised, and adequately insured for the holiday/trip.
Where the child does not hold a valid passport, the social worker should arrange for this - see Section 3, Obtaining a Passport.
Where the holiday will interrupt contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should also be given to arranging additional contacts before and after the holiday.
2. When the Courts Permission is Required
If the child is the subject of a Care Order and the holiday abroad is for more than one month, an application must also be made to the appropriate court for permission to allow the child to go abroad if the parents' written agreement is not obtained.
Where a Court Order is required, the social worker should contact Legal Services as soon as possible for the necessary application to be made and advise the parents of the intended application.
If the holiday is authorised by the court, the holiday should be included in the Placement Plan and additional contact arranged as above.
3. Obtaining a Passport
Where there is a proposal for a child to go on a holiday or trip abroad and the child does not currently hold a valid passport, the request to the Services Manager in relation to the holiday/trip should include a request for authority to obtain a passport for the child.
Where the child requires a passport for any other reason, the approval of the Services Manager should be sought. The written request for such approval should include the reason for the request, the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the staff/carer where applicable; and the child's up to date Care Plan, Placement Information Record and, where applicable, Pathway Plan.
Where the Services Manager gives authority for a passport to be obtained for a child, this must be confirmed in writing. The social worker must inform the parent of the decision.
The social worker will obtain and complete the necessary application for the child or assist the parent/child to complete the necessary application form. See: Guidance Notes for Social Services Departments when Applying for Passports on Behalf of 'Looked After Children' (GOV.UK).
Where the child is the subject of a Care Order, the passport application must be accompanied by a letter on behalf of the Director of Children Specialist and Safeguarding Services signed by the Services Manager stating:
- That the child is subject to a Care Order under s31 of the Children Act 1989 (or, if another section, that section)
- Details of the proposed journey (if known, otherwise a general description of the journeys to be undertaken e.g. annual holidays with foster carers)
- That the Department undertakes to comply with the provisions of the Children Act 1989 before removing the child from the jurisdiction of the Court.
If the child is to be out of the country for longer than one month the Passport Office will also need to see written evidence of either the consent of the persons with Parental Responsibility (if available), or, (if not) written evidence of leave of the Court given under s33(7) of the Children Act 1989.
When the child is Accommodated, the parents must sign the application. If the parents do not consent, legal advice should be sought; the application can only be made in these circumstances if accompanied by a Court Order authorising the issue of a passport without the parents' consent.