Holidays and School Trips Outside the UK
For School Trips within the UK, see
1. Holidays for Accommodated Children
Arrangements for notifying and consulting the social worker about holiday plans should be agreed in the Placement Plan.
The consent of the parent(s) or person with Parental Responsibility must be obtained and consent form signed. This should be used to provide the following information:
- Address where holiday is taken;
- Responsible adult(s) accompanying the child including adult/child ratio if group holiday;
- If the child is going with a family or person who is not known to Children's Services, whether the appropriate checks have been made;
- Dates of holiday;
- Views of the child;
- If any cost to the Authority, including insurance;
- Any additional information;
If it is a group day trip or holiday, the social worker must be satisfied that adequate health and safety precautions are taken.
Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are very exceptional circumstances. This is because the average educational achievements of Children in Care fall way behind those of other children who are not in the care system. They therefore need the best possible and fullest experience at school to reduce the disadvantage they have already experienced in their lives.
Hence, social workers and team managers need to reinforce this. Any requests for exceptional leave need to be approved prior to any holiday planning by the school's Head Teacher; the Service Director, Early Help and Safeguarding, and the Head of the Virtual School.
Note that under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, the previous ability of head teachers 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 head teachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are 'exceptional circumstances').
2. Holidays for Children on Care Orders
The procedure is the same as for those for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that the consent of the parents or person having Parental Responsibility is not required but should be obtained wherever practicable or possible. Any objections by the parent(s) should be recorded on the child's electronic records.
The social worker should ensure that arrangements are in place through the Placement Plan to be notified well in advance of any plans for holidays abroad in order to obtain required consent.
3. Holidays for Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers
The procedure is the same as for Accommodated Children (see Section 1, Holidays for Accommodated Children) except that:
- Approval is unlikely if the child/young person wishes to go on their own and/or to a destination which could call into question the integrity of their original claim for asylum;
- The child's social worker would have to endorse the holiday by signing the consent form.
4. When the Courts Permission is Required
If the child is the subject of a Care Order and the holiday abroad is for more than 1 month, an application must also be made to the appropriate Court for the Court's permission to allow the child to go abroad if the parent's 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.
5.1 Medical Treatment during visits to EU / EEA Countries
Children travelling within EU/EEA countries and Switzerland will be covered for medical treatment through a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). For children under 16 years old, the form needs to be completed by the parent(s) or foster carer(s) and be submitted as a part of family application. Young people over 16 can apply for a European Health Insurance Card in their own name. Click here to apply for an EHIC online. The GOV.UK website provides advice for travellers.
5.2 Private Medical Insurance Cover or Insurance Cover for Holidays
In situations where medical cover is required at short notice, it is suggested that private insurance cover is taken out.
The insurance referred to in Section 5.1, Medical Treatment during visits to EU / EEA Countries only covers a child for medical treatment and not for loss of luggage, cover for cancellation of the holiday etc. Therefore a private insurance policy is needed for a child travelling abroad.
6. Obtaining a Passport
If Children's Social Care Services have previously applied for a passport on the child's behalf and are applying for a renewal or extension, a letter outlining the circumstances mentioned above stating that these have not changed is sufficient. In these circumstances there is no need to complete the application form. This should be signed by the Designated Manager (Passports).
Where there is a proposal for a child to go on holiday abroad and the child does not currently hold a valid passport, the request to the Designated Manager (Passports) in relation to the holiday should include a written request for the authority to obtain a passport for the child.
If it is an urgent application where an application is made in person, the social worker must provide evidence of their identity and a signed letter of authorisation from the Designated Manager (Passports).
Where the child requires a passport for any other reason, the approval of the Designated Manager (Passports) 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. Where the Designated Manager (Passports) 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 child to complete the necessary application form.