As of September 1st no more term time absences - complete overkill?

(152 Posts)
Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 16:55:16

We've just been notified that schools will no longer authorise any absences in term time as of September (bar exceptional circumstances) and if you do take your child out in term time you get a £60 fine.

I'm not saying I approve of kids taking time out in term time per se, but this seems ridiculously heavy handed to me, what's wrong with the current system at the Head's discretion?

For example, my 6 year old DS was studying the Great Fire of London, so we took him to London for two days, but on a Sunday and Monday to avoid crowds and reduce the cost by half. He learnt way more in that day than he would have in school and I find it very hard to believe that the odd day here and there for good reason is going to make a massive amount of difference.

Also, Dh pointed out that some people work in offices and it is not always possible to take your annual leave in the summer if everyone else gets in there first. Then what?

So, AIBU to think that this is really over the top?

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:18:03

Who's talking about continually ll31? You seem to make a lot of ill informed presumptions?

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 17:18:14

Inset days and polling station days are taken from school holidays

That's why break-up and return dates vary from school to school

meddie Thu 11-Jul-13 17:19:27

Maybe i am just being cynical here. But to me it just smacks of another money grabbing scheme. After all there are many who would not be able to afford term time holidays and just pay the fine anyway as its still cheaper.

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:21:18

Do you genuinely not see how disruptive it is if there are many kids being kept at home on random days during school year fir no good reason? Really ? do you not feelany sense of,I don't know,community or loyalty to the school and their efforts to educate your children???

TwoTeaTessie Thu 11-Jul-13 17:21:27

I think this is more to target those children who have unauthorised absences from school. A lot of the parents at the school I work in don't ask for permission and just take their kids without informing us, leaving us with poor attendance figures.
I have in the past taken my own DS out of school for the last week of term and have no problems with a child missing a week of school for a family holiday especially if it is just before the 6 week holiday but some of the children I work with have less than 80% attendance which seriously affects their education. I think this is why they are cracking down!

gazzalw Thu 11-Jul-13 17:21:38

Well I am not entirely sure it's going to stop the serial offenders.....

We took one day out of school last year for a very important family event (the first time ever that all the family was in one place for a happy event) but had permission to do so. It was a one-off though...

I do resent people doing their own thing to save money when most of us would like to save money but don't think it's a good idea to flout authority by taking out children out of school.

On the other hand, at this time of the summer term there's precious little studying being done and really what are the children missing?

It's just another example of our parental civil liberties being eroded..... [sigh]

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:22:58

If they've decided to start fining presumably it's not down to your day off,presumably it's due to a bigger problem,which you're a tiny part of

5madthings Thu 11-Jul-13 17:23:31

Exceptional circumstances is to be decided by the head teacher as it always been. We have five days authorized in september as dp can't get any time off work in school holidays (employer provided letter for school) and that has been granted as exceptional.

TabithaStephens Thu 11-Jul-13 17:23:52

Having a holiday is not a "right"! If you can't afford to take them away during school holidays, don't take them away at all. And if having cheap holidays is that important to you, don't have kids.

Education is more important than ever before. I bet the same people who take their kids out of school will in the future be moaning that there aren't any jobs for their kids.

It's still at the Headteacher's discretion. The specific reference to 'holidays' has been removed, that's all. So, in theory, if a Head thought there was an 'exceptional' need for a child to be absent then it's so loosely defined as to cover a trip to see family abroad, or allow a holiday for a pupil whose circumstances mean they wouldn't otherwise allow for that holiday.

Heads are mostly jumping to 'The Govt says we can't allow any holidays. Sorry, out of our hands', which isn't the case.

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:26:43

So, Tabitha, it's alright for 5madthings to take 5 days in September because her DH can't get time off any other time, but if it's just because you're poor you need to suck it up?

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 17:27:29

Our school has always had a zero tolerance approach to term time absences, or at least since my pfb started there in 2004.

I'm always half shocked/half jealous on hearing about other schools that do allow a limited number.

Portofino Thu 11-Jul-13 17:27:39

In Belgium you would lose your school place if you took them out for a term time holiday.

x-pot with 5madthings, illustrating exactly the sort of flexibility Heads are still allowed to exercise.

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 17:29:47

I do love all these parents who try to justify a cheaper jolly by calling it educational

So the Bayeux Tapestry, Normandy Landing beaches, war cemetries, Notre Dame and the Louvre are not educational? Ok.

Going in September cost us £800 less than in August or July and meant that we could go away. Had we had to pay for the full high season cost we wouldnt have been able to go away at all.

frogspoon Thu 11-Jul-13 17:30:02

I wonder what impact this would have on students being absent for religious holidays? Would it come under exceptional circumstances?

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 17:31:50

Having a holiday isn't a 'right' but it is bloody lovely. It's not just the educational aspect of seeing new things, people and places but also I think it's important to spend that time together as a family; the dynamics change, you relate to each other differently and they are the stuff that childhood memories are made of.

Personally, I'm just going to factor the £60 in to the cost of the holiday - it's still massively cheaper than going in term-time.

And I agree with the OP that it is a heavy-handed policy that will do little to address the real reasons why some children are persistent non-attenders, because those are to do with chaotic home lives, caring responsibilities etc, none of which are going to be ameliorated by just getting all arsey and demanding money from parents who are already struggling with supporting their children at school.

I would imagine so, frogspoon. As it's all down to the interpretation of the individual Head it depends if they want to make a case for allowing that absence on those grounds.

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 17:32:19

And Tabitha I believe that my children learned more in those 2 weeks than they did in a years worth of history and french lessons. "Just dont go" is writing off a whole host of experiences and learning opportunities on the basis that you think those on lower incomes shouldnt get a holiday! Keep holidays for the rich and the rest of us can go to skeggy for the day.....

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 17:33:40

but if one family are granted those five days....other families will see them taking hols in term time and it will become 'well the HT said that family can go,why not us?'

everyone thinks their own circs are 'exceptional' don't they?

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:34:56

Wallison says it very well ^^. Why should that be the preserve of those "who can afford it"?

NoComet Thu 11-Jul-13 17:39:10

As far as I'm concerned it's schools going way way beyond their rights to interfer in family life.

It's not for them to judge family finances, work commitments, family commitment or just the need for a change of scene due to the stresses of life.

Nor is it for them to judge if a trip is educational or not.

School should not be seen as a prison sentence, it's a service our taxes pay for.

BalloonSlayer Thu 11-Jul-13 17:40:43

IME lots of people say "DH can't get time off at any other time" but it is just an excuse. Most people have at least 4 weeks holiday a year, and it is not impossible for at least one of those to fall during the summer holidays.

Maybe employers will become legally obliged to let parents with school age children have first bagsy on the school holidays when booking leave? I know DH often found - before he wised up and got quicker - that he could not have any time off during half term as his colleagues had both booked it. Their kids were teenagers and ours were 6/7 but oh no they NEEDED to be off with their kids hmm.

Round our way there is a lot of "we can't afford to go during the holidays" from people with 4 bedroom detached houses and 2 new cars in the drive. What they mean is they don't fancy paying any more for their glossy foreign holiday.

Our local school has said that if you have a letter from your employer saying you can only go at certain times they will approve it.

I would like however to see schools actually continue to teach right up to the penultimate day of term without the constant Sports days/arts days/ activity weeks / picnics/ watching DVDs/ other pissing about that seems to take up the last few weeks of the year and the week before Christmas. I don't mind the last day being spent messing about - I am not a complete misery wink

LazyMonkeyButler Thu 11-Jul-13 17:41:58

I should think the new "zero tolerance" position will help school staff out, if DS2's primary school was anything to go by. I lost count of the amount of parents who used to say they were entitled to 10 days term-time holiday per year & several parents who were outraged when their holiday requests were refused, based on this entitlement.

I don't know if it was national/county policy or just applied to that one school but the rule used to be that 'absence of no more than 10 days in any complete school year may be allowed at the HT's discretion'.
However, is this absence would push the child's attendance below 90% for the year (I do know of exception being made for a child with specific recurrent health issues), or the HT thought that such an absence would be detrimental to the child then it could be refused. Last year, for example, there was an outraged mum who had booked & paid for a holiday for her Year 6 DS during SATS week. She expected her DS to be able to 'do the tests when he gets back' hmm.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 17:44:06

a letter from your employer??

so it will be just the self employed taking holidays then

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