Can you take children out of school to celebrate Eid al Fitr?

Eid al Fitr and the end of Ramadan is an incredibly important occasion for many families and an opportunity for parents who celebrate it to spend this special time with their children. But what if Eid falls on a weekday? Here, Nikki Bradley offers her advice for parents looking at taking their children out of school to celebrate the occasion on Wednesday.

For separated parents, celebrating Eid can present its own challenges and for parents whose religious views are not shared, there could be further challenges still. As Eid moves with the moon, it can be difficult for parents to plan arrangements around this event, which can lead to a strain being placed on co-parenting relationships. If Eid does not fall on a weekend, some parents may consider whether they would like to take their child out of school to celebrate the occasion.

Education is of course one of the key corner stones of any child’s upbringing and development and every school day should be treated as just as important as the last. However, there will be instances when children are required to miss school and the Department of Education sets out the circumstances in which this is acceptable. One of those circumstances if when an authorised absence is granted for the purposes of religious observance.

If you would like to take your child out of school to celebrate Eid, it is very important to discuss this issue with your co-parent first. Parents should be making decisions regarding education jointly and working together in the best interests of their child. This is particularly important if the relationship with your co-parent can be strained, and you find communication difficult. Making unilateral decisions without your co-parent’s input will only inflame any existing tensions between you and will make trust difficult to build over time.

If you approach this conversation with openness, transparency, and respect, you will hopefully be able to reach an agreement with your co-parent as to the plans for this special event. If you both agree that your child should celebrate this event outside of school, then the next step would be to approach the school in advance and seek their permission for your child’s absence to be authorised. Whilst it is a matter for the school as to whether that request is granted, many local authorities consider that Headteachers and their staff should have the religious and cultural needs of their children in the forefront of their minds and give serious consideration to such requests for time off during periods of religious observance.

If you cannot agree on whether your child should attend school during Eid, then it would be a good idea to consider inviting your co-parent to mediation to discuss matters in a safe, guided environment with a neutral professional to avoid tensions escalating.

If you need advice on this topic, or any other matters concerning divorce or family law, please get in touch with our team at McAlister Family Law.


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