Guidance for Schools on Religious Observance during Term-Time

Guidance for Schools on Religious Observance during Term-Time

Guidance for Schools on Religious Observance during Term-Time.



Each year, a number of important religious festivals and celebrations take part during the school term.  Most schools already make their own arrangements through consulting parents and/or allocating occasional day/s to acknowledge religious festivals and celebrations.  However, those schools that have not made any arrangements may find the following guidance useful.



Bradford Council is keen to ensure children and adults from different faith backgrounds are able to celebrate religious festivals at the appropriate time they occur throughout the school year. Some schools with a majority of children of a particular faith will have already acknowledged this through planning their occasional days to coincide with its local community needs. Planning and decisions like these, taken by the school’s governing body and through consultation with parents and local religious bodies, have meant that children and adults of different faiths are able to celebrate important religious festivals and celebrations with minimum disruption to children’s education during the school year.



As part of their educational entitlement children have a total of 190 days in the school year. Bradford Council continues to work with schools to improve attendance levels and raise levels of attainment which we must together sustain. Where time-off for children is not planned properly, additional days can be lost causing disruption to the school and reducing their entitlement to education. This can also have a further detrimental impact on attendance and attainment levels.



In Bradford, teachers can request time off to celebrate a religious festival. Teachers may take up to three days’ paid leave in a year for such purposes. Bradford Council policy is that all staff employed by governing bodies based in school on term time contracts should be afforded the same opportunity. All such requests must be made through the Headteacher.



In those schools where the School's Governing Body is not the actual employer, the Governing Body exercises staffing responsibilities and is required to make the day to day decisions in the context of its school and local school community. In the case of voluntary aided and foundation schools as well as Academies and Free Schools, the planning of the school year, occasional and training days are all decisions for the Governing Body to take along with the Headteacher in consultation with staff and parents. The Council is responsible for fixing dates of terms and holidays for all other categories of schools but permits their governing bodies to determine their own school training and occasional days.



Relevant legislation in this area are namely the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. Employers need to be mindful that they attach the appropriate level of importance to an employee’s request for consideration of their religious beliefs or practices. All schools have different circumstances and therefore must use their discretion to make informed decisions about the needs of their children and staff.


Bradford Council’s Recommendations:

  1. That Headteachers and governing bodies are sympathetic to the needs of children and staff from different religious and faith backgrounds and take seriously their responsibilities in ensuring equality of opportunity in employment and service delivery.

  2. That Headteachers and governing bodies, when planning the school holidays and training days, consider the religious and cultural needs of their children, staff and local school community.
  3. When a religious festival or celebration occurs during term time, Schools gives serious consideration to any requests for time off. It is therefore recommended that any request made by parents for their children’s absence should be treated as an authorised absence for religious or cultural observance.

N.B. Bradford Council recommends that all children, regardless of their faith are afforded up to 3 days authorised absence per academic year for religious and cultural observance, with requests for more than 3 days of absence considered on a case by case basis, and authorised if exceptional circumstances exist and the relevant religious body agrees that the absence is essential.

  1. Any requests for leave by staff should be made directly to the Headteacher and consideration given with regard to their conditions of service.

More information on religious events can be found on Bradford Schools Online:

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