OMG. Are these 'penalty notices' for taking children out of school in term time legally enforceable?

(768 Posts)
Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:42

Not interested in having a debate about whether it is 'right' to take a child out of schol, in term time for holidays etc. just wanting to know whether they can be enforced from a legal perspective.

I have just read the latest school newsletter and am to be honest, very annoyed indeed to find that as of September the school are changing its policy on authorising absences. Until now it's always been on a case by case basis but now they are saying no absence will be authorised whatsoever no matter what, except for one day for weddings ( with proof!)

The penalty is £60 or £120.

Not very fair on any parents such as myself who booked a holiday for a week in October as we really CANNOT get away in half term this year.

I will not be paying unless this is legally enforcible!!

LtEveDallas Mon 22-Jul-13 15:38:19

I haven't done this, or expect to need to at all, but I have to say, if I ever fell into this boat, I think I'd just take the fine and be done with it.

Yesterday I was busy surfing the net for Disneyland deals as we are considering taking DD next Easter. By accident I had put 5 Mar instead of 5 Apr. For 2 weeks starting 5 Mar it was going to cost us £3.5K, for 2 weeks starting 5 Apr it was going to cost us £7K shock

After discovering that, I checked for the last 2 weeks in July - £8.5K and the last 2 weeks in June - £4K.

I think I'd gladly pay £120 if that is the kind of difference we are talking about.

I find that really shocking and can see why parents do it, I really can.

Ledkr Mon 22-Jul-13 15:42:14

Hilarious really.
People do far worse to their kids and get off Scott free but take them on holiday and you get fined hmm

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 15:44:09

I think what I am most annoyed about is the lack of sensible warning. I do not hunk it is sensible or fair to tell parents this two days before the term ends when Prior to this for ever and a day it has always been at heads discretion.

My DP cannot take leave this year in school hols. If he does then other people ( his employees) will have to be refused and he does not want to do this for various reasons.

He works 60 + hours per week and by October will be I'll from stress and lack of a holiday.

Actually I feel our right to have one week away as a family is infinitely more important than some arbitrary ' no absence' rule moused by the LEa in order to raise some extra cash.

Last year my Dc had 98% attendance and is out performing most of his peers. Even with having this week off he could still get 98% attendance this year ( most of the teachers don't manage that!) so why the hell should I pay for a decision I take as a parent for the good of whole family.

Nanny0gg Mon 22-Jul-13 15:44:42

Dahlen I see your situation and I do think it should still be discretionary. However, I disagree with the part where you say 'My DC are in the top of their year and I would be happy to take some work away to ensure they didn't slip behind.' unless it's you preparing and marking the work.

It's asking too much of teachers these days for them to sort out work to cover what the children would be missing.

bigTillyMint Mon 22-Jul-13 15:46:02

Josephine, of course holidays are a luxury, but I happen to think some holidays ARE educational. And I'm a teacher.

What about those where the DC learn a new skill/perfect one, eg skiing?

What about those where the family travels independently to a distant and different culture where they do homestays, etc?

The DC will probably get more out of that kind of holiday than a week in the classroom AFAIAC

josephinebruce Mon 22-Jul-13 15:47:20

Ski-ing?

That's REALLY useful lol

Dahlen Mon 22-Jul-13 15:47:33

They wouldn't have to sort out extra work NannyOgg. I could obtain a copy of the relevant part of the national curriculum myself and all I would need from them is a copy of the lesson plans they would have used for the period we were away.

I am a proactive parent and don't expect people to run around facilitating my choices, but likewise I don't expect to be obstructed in them for no good reason.

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 15:49:20

I don't honk this is about educational success or failure at all, it's about raising cash.if they want t raise cash they should be honest and just raise our taxes.

It is disingenuous to say that taking the odd holiday will for most children result in academic failure.

Academic success or failure is About so much more than being there every single day!

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 15:51:03

I FOR ONE WILL BE PAYING MY FINE IN PENNIES!!!

Nerfmother Mon 22-Jul-13 15:51:10

Well I have the opposite problem in that dds school have decided to offer all of year ten a term time trip to eurodisney ( end of term trip) for the 'special' price of 299 each. Plus spends and lunch. Would love to just take her somewhere cheaper for those days.

WorraLiberty Mon 22-Jul-13 15:53:28

I suppose though, even if it were under your school's old "case by case" basis, you have booked a holiday and assumed that you would be given permission and have taken that risk.

This really ^^

Why did you book it without seeking permission? Even under the old rules you should have sought permission first.

"right to a holiday away as a family"

hmm

A law change made no measurable difference to attendance, so they are moving to clamp down by removing HTs' discretion and enforcing fines.

Right to family life isn't compromised so human rights lawyers would laugh you out of the office.

pinkdelight Mon 22-Jul-13 15:55:55

As an aside, utterlyastounded, your honk and hunk instead of think is really tickling me.

But yeah, the fines suck. As do the crazy prices for peak holiday periods.

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 22-Jul-13 15:56:09

You can only pay in pennies up to 20p, OP. After that, it can be rejected.

You can pay in 20ps up to £10, and in £1 coins for any amount.

I do think that you are in a better position than some. Your DP could take a holiday at half-term, but he doesn't want too. He could agree with his employees to do it one year and they can do it the next? Or he can just take it, because this has forced his hand. At least he gets the choice.

StuntGirl Mon 22-Jul-13 15:56:30

Oh give over. Just pay the fine and get over it. Fines for taking children out of school during term time have been around since I was at school. So your LEA are choosing to actually enforce it than have a silly rule they never use, you can hardly say you had no idea this would be possible consequence.

As you have admitted above you could take a holiday during school holidays you (or rather your husband) is just choosing not to.

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 15:58:20

Pink yes, my iPad has the upper hand I'm afraid, gave up trying and let it autocorrect to its hearts content now wink

Twirlyhot Mon 22-Jul-13 16:00:54

The 'right to family life' will come in because though you wouldn't ge far arguing your right to a comparatively cheap week at Disneyland, I think you could argue the right to have DC see a dying grandparent who lives abroad or at the other end of the country. Or to see one of their parents/siblings get married somewhere one days absence wouldn't cover it. Or to spend time with half siblings in Australia etc etc.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 22-Jul-13 16:03:18

Holidays can be educational, they aren't always. Even if they are educational, they will be providing the same amount of education outside of term time as they will inside it.

I agree with the fines.

Grindmygears Mon 22-Jul-13 16:03:48

I'm not allowed time off during my kids hols. What do i do?

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 22-Jul-13 16:03:52

I'm going to a wedding next year and I'm wondering whether to ask for permission, have it turned down, and get fined £480 or whether to phone in sick. It's only one day and if I was saving £3.5K on a holiday to Disney Land and taking a fortnight off then I would factor in the expense but it seems steep for a wedding.

Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 16:05:06

I think, we have been told you can have one day only for weddings but only with proof, so you should be ok.

norkmonster Mon 22-Jul-13 16:05:14

I believe the fine is per parent per child per day - so it could be £1,200 per child for a 10 day holiday.
For what it's worth, the amendment to the legislation was only put before parliament in April this year, and only comes into force on 1st September. Leaves of absence (which are coded differently to things like religious holidays, funerals etc) can now only be granted in "exceptional circumstances" - previously it was "special circumstances". The schools hands are tied - they have no choice but to implement the legislation.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 22-Jul-13 16:09:28

How do you prove a wedding I wonder? Ask the B&G for a copy of the certificate maybe. I think I ought to get into the selling copies of wedding certificates business, particularly weddings which take place in Florida. I'm considering asking a friend who isn't planning on going to any weddings to ask for me, hypothetically, so I can see how the land lies.

PrettyKitty1986 Mon 22-Jul-13 16:09:48

I find it really sad that some people can be so narrow minded as to think holidays are not educational or useful to dc.

We went to Disneyland and Paris in March. Mainly for the enjoyment...but it WAS educational, especially when you have a five year old asking question after question everywhere you go. We spent ages looking at world maps so I could show the dc where we were going. They went on a ferry and up the Eiffel Tower (again with 5000 questions asked about each). They learnt some words in French (Bonjoir, Merci, Si Vous Plait etc). Experienced local foods in Paris centre. Loads more.

They also had an awesome time...but seriously, how could anyone argue there is no educational value in that?!?

Dying grandparents and families abroad are already in the exemptions list. "Going on holiday together" wouldn't and shouldn't count.

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