To think the school was wrong to refuse to authorise absence

(94 Posts)
twofalls Fri 15-Nov-13 22:42:55

Next week will be the first anniversary of my friends death. His wife has applied for her son to have the day off so they can travel with their extended family to a place if importance to them. The head has sent back a standard letter saying they can only authorise absence in exceptional circumstances.And her request has been refused. AIBU in thinking the head was wrong? Not to mention incredibly insensitive? Surely this is pretty exceptional??

NadiaWadia Thu 21-Nov-13 03:27:48

twofalls seriously, a child was not 'authorised' to go to their grandparent's funeral? That's appalling, how can they justify that? I hope the child went anyway, and the parents put in a complaint.

Things seem to have got just ridiculous lately. A few years ago my DCs had to have time off for a great-grandparent's funeral. I let the school know they would be absent. I didn't ask, just told them, and they didn't say anything.

Thumbwitch Thu 21-Nov-13 02:11:35

float - maybe there is another document that has been sent out to Headteachers, explaining what can and can't be counted as "exceptional" circumstances?

NoSquirrels Wed 20-Nov-13 21:49:59

Choosparp, I'm sorry for your loss. I hope the anniversary brings you comfort amidst the painful memories.

I had to take my DC out of school for one day this term, for personal family reasons. DC is only Reception age, so on a personal level I'm fine with it (nothing to miss schooling-wise IMO in one day in the first term of school before you're five!) but I was uncomfortable about it, because I know the rules have changed and so I knew it was pointless asking for "permission" as such, because the permission would be denied. However, I really really don't agree with lying. And as it's first term at school, the school itself has no idea what kind of attitude I have to attendance, and I worried it would make us look troublesome.

I decided best thing to do was to write, with sufficient notice and giving the reasons, and state that I knew the school could not authorise absence but that DC would be off school on X date.

I got a great short-but-sweet email back to say "Sorry to hear your news, thanks for letting us know." I neither know nor care what code they fill in on the official register, I am reassured that they aren't going to fine me for it and I have satisfied my conscience. I thought it was a great response from the school, and completely in line with the new regs.

FortyDoorsToNowhere Wed 20-Nov-13 20:16:55

Is Daniel his real name, if so ask MN to edit the post.

I am glad the school has made an U turn on this, I can't imagine what this little 8 year old and his mother has gone through through this last year, and I hope having this day off will help them with the grief they must feel every single second of every day.

twofalls Wed 20-Nov-13 19:28:09

Thanks for that, it's helpful.

Do you know what kind of penalties schools get if the authorise "too much" leave? And who sets what is too much?

float62 Wed 20-Nov-13 18:45:37

I'm glad that this situation got resolved. I really am not sure what is supposed to be so 'complicated' about this new legislation, it seems pretty easy to understand to me. Here is a cut and paste of the actual wording taken from the published guidance from the Department of Education Dept for Education

Absence codes are as follows:

"Code C: Leave of absence authorised by the school
Only exceptional circumstances warrant leave of absence. Schools should consider each request individually taking into account the circumstances, such as: the nature of the event for which leave is sought; the frequency of the request; whether the parent gave advance notice; and the pupil’s attainment, attendance and ability to catch up on missed schooling."

twofalls Wed 20-Nov-13 18:05:55

To be fair, the head wrote again yesterday apologising and saying that she is really struggling with the new rules and is quite frustrated by them. She said she felt the school always managed attendance well before. She also gave the family a week off before J started his treatment so they could have a family holiday without question, this was before the new guidelines came in.

More evidence why Gove should just bugger off and leave it to the heads discretion. I heard of another child not being authorised to go to their grandparents funeral today.

Anyway, thanks everyone.

Thumbwitch Mon 18-Nov-13 23:05:12

Glad she saw sense and had a touch of compassion!
Hope she takes that experience forward and doesn't put anyone else in similar position as yourself through the unnecessary pain and stress of having to fight for that little bit of consideration in the future.

Hope your day on Friday is very special. xx

EATmum Mon 18-Nov-13 22:58:40

I'm pleased you now have the outcome you needed, but what a waste of emotion caused by such a blinkered attitude. I'm so sorry this has caused you pain and frustration when you have so much else to be dealing with.

mygrandchildrenrock Mon 18-Nov-13 22:56:34

I'm glad it's all been sorted, but it really isn't down to the Headteacher. What the Head said is true, t he new legislation is very clear that schools are not allowed to authorise pretty much anything in term time.
It's annoying and frustrating but not the Headteacher's doing.

ivykaty44 Mon 18-Nov-13 22:45:05

Choosparp, I am glad you now have peace of mind to spend the day as you see fit with your ds.

I am sorry that you had to battle again at a time when your emotions and physical self are vulnerable, it is not pleasant.

I am glad though that you posted here and got advise from informed mners that was able to enable you to get the result you needed.

Goldmandra Mon 18-Nov-13 22:26:21

That is good news. Well done for standing up to her.

I know you don't want to take this any further but you could, if the subject should arise again, suggest that she informs you of any negative consequences she incurs so that you can take the small-minded bureaucrat that imposes them to task on her behalf <sweet smile> grin

Presumably the Head feels she will be called to accoun by Ofsted for the absences she's authorised. In your case all she needs to say is 'that was a bereaved child' and the should surely be the end of the matter. I'm glad you've got a good result and can spend time together in peace.

josephinebruce Mon 18-Nov-13 22:13:58

Haven't read the entire thread - cos I'm short of time - but try appealing. It is an exceptional circumstance and can see no reason why it wouldn't be accepted.

scaevola Mon 18-Nov-13 22:08:57

I am so pleased you have got a good result -on the sense that the HT has decided to authorise.

HT continues, of course, to talk fluent bollocks - the new legislation leaves the determination of 'exceptional' entirely to the HT (not governors, LES, OFSTED or any other 3rd party): either she is ignorant, or weak (seeking to hide behind the bogeyman of 'legislation') or just plain nasty.

I appreciate that you will not want to prolong the correspondence on this issue. But I'd love to ask what 'consequences' she envisions, as she has (finally) acted entirely within the letter and spirit of the law.

Choosparp Mon 18-Nov-13 21:59:28

THanks again everyone. I got a reply at 4.30 this afternoon as follows:
--------
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

The new legislation does not, unfortunately, view this request as 'exceptional circumstances'. I have on reflection decided to authorise this request, as I think it is personally the right thing to do (as I did when the original request came in) and I will handle the consequences when I need to!

I appreciate that this has been a challenging year for you, Daniel and your family and trust you have a very special day on Friday.
---
It's all bollocks, as you have all said it's down to the HT to decide. She was caught out by my email saying how deeply upset I was by her reply, and is trying to make herself look better. No matter. I got the outcome I wanted, and 12 months on from holding my husband while his life support was switched off I haven't got the emotional energy to take it further. I did have a little dig in my reply about how each school seems to handle things differently, which I've learned from talking to other widowed parents. I hope she will know not to mess me about in future. x

mummymeister Mon 18-Nov-13 13:31:39

choosparp you are an incredibly strong woman. I take my hat off to you. don't bother writing to Gove. I did that and got the most pathetic reply imaginable eventually. his view was that it is for the head to decide and no one else. in which case, the blame for this situation lies fairly and squarely with your head teacher. take the time off and don't pay the fine. you just don't need this crap from people. where has all the compassion gone? a supposedly civilised society that doesn't trust a mum to make the best decision for her kids. awful, awful awful. stay strong and do what you know is right. there are so many people on here right behind you.

Goldmandra Mon 18-Nov-13 13:29:35

Thanks twofalls.

Fortunately his school was brilliant. He's 20 now and is making us all very proud smile

twofalls Mon 18-Nov-13 13:05:32

Thanks thumbwitch, she isn't a regular but lurks occasionally. I mentioned the Bereavement board a way back but she has joined WAY and is finding it amazingly supportive.

One of us will definitely come back to update the thread when the HT has had chance to read her letter. Hopefully she will see sense and/or find her compassion.

I am sorry about your friend Goldmandra. I hope her DS has had all the support he needs.

Thumbwitch Sun 17-Nov-13 23:37:16

Dreadfully insensitive to just send out a standard letter refusing.
Choosparp - thanks for posting as well and so sorry for your loss - such a hard thing to have to deal with. I don't know if you're a regular poster on here but there is a Bereavement board on here as well if you need any further support - lots, sadly, of people with young children who have lost partners.

Can you maybe make an appointment to see the Head and see if they have any good reason (like their hands are tied by new regs) for denying the authorised absence? If not, just take him out of school anyway. Say he's ill - headache, sick stomach, no sleep - lying about it isn't ideal of course but it seems that the new regs are going to promote this sort of problem. sad

Hope you have a peaceful day of remembrance for your James. xx

Goldmandra Sun 17-Nov-13 23:36:31

Choosparp, I'm so sorry to hear what a dreadful time you and your boys have had.

My godson lost his mother aged 10 and we all made sure he was allowed and helped to grieve in the way that worked best for him, alongside his father and younger brother. I would have been spitting feathers if his school had tried to obstruct an important part of the process for him.

You have every right to take your son out of school to remember his father and acknowledge the terrible loss you have shared as a family.

Let the school know that they can mark this as an unauthorised absence and you will be happy to inform the LA of the reasons behind it if they take it any further.

If they dare issue a fine I think you might find the power of massed MNers behind you, if you wanted it, and the LA the subject of a great deal of press scrutiny.

I hope the day goes as you have planned it and that it helps you all to come together as a family at what must be a very difficult time.

Choosparp I wish you well taking this further with school and Governors. I am sure your husband would be incredibly proud of you all. I hope you can find some peace of heart next week.

Choosparp Sun 17-Nov-13 23:29:42

And I would also ask whether those of you arguing against this are young widowed parents? In which case I would really like to chat, as I'm sure we have a lot to offer to each other. Please message me. x If not, maybe give my circumstances a second thought. x

lisad123everybodydancenow Sun 17-Nov-13 23:26:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Choosparp Sun 17-Nov-13 23:20:58

Hello. I'm the person Twofalls is talking about. Really pleased to see so much support here, thank you all. My 39yo husband died from complications during a bone marrow transplant for leukaemia. He was in intensive care for 3.5 weeks before we switched off his life support. I was left with my older DS (then 7) and our youngest DS (then 7 months). We have had the crappest 12 months imaginable. Our world has been turned upside down, and then some. My James was a totally hands-on father, very involved with his boys. I have had to deal with the grief of losing my partner and soul mate, and my boys losing their beloved father. This response from the school HT has thrown me completely at a vulnerable time. I really appreciate that you are supoprting me in this. x

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