MP's to debate school holiday rules/fines on 24th February

(395 Posts)
mummymeister Fri 21-Feb-14 12:44:40

Please can I ask anyone who feels as strongly as I do to write to their MP and ask for the changes in the rules regarding school holidays to be reversed. there is a back bench debate at 4.30pm on the 24th February and it is really important to bring this issue to the fore. There have been so many stories on MN of people wanting a day for funeral, to attend a family event, to visit family abroad that I know if all of us affected or who feel strongly write in at least we will have tried.

tiggytape Fri 21-Feb-14 14:24:11

The real problem parents get away with allowing their children to truant or miss lessons by not turning up until gone 9.30.

The fines can be applied to people who are continually late as well as those who take time off without permission.

The debate though is mainly to be about the pricing policy used by travel companies in school holiday times and the fact everyone is on half term at the same time which drives prices up. It isn't mainly a debate about reverting back to the old policy that allowed limited time off for family holidays (and was abused to such an extent that the new rules were drawn up).

soverylucky Fri 21-Feb-14 14:26:44

perhaps better guidance for head teachers is required. I have only ever asked for my children to be absent twice during term time and the last time I asked was two years ago. The head looked at their attendance record, considered the amount of time requested and looked at our reason for booking a holiday outside of the holiday period. Both times it was authorised. Other parents who wanted two weeks off mid term for children with attendance below 90% were surprised that their children were marked as having unauthorised absence.

prh47bridge Fri 21-Feb-14 14:27:14

No doubt some do, but my personal experience of primary school teachers is that they recognise the benefit of children going on holiday even if it is in term time

I don't dispute that some primary school teachers don't object to children taking holidays in term time. But teaching bodies told the government that many teachers, particularly in primary schools, were agreeing with parents and claiming to recognise the benefit of term time holidays purely to keep the peace, whereas in fact they were opposed to term time holidays and found them disruptive.

For what it is worth a number of primary school teachers post on the Education threads. As far as I can see they are unanimously in favour of the current regulations.

lljkk Fri 21-Feb-14 14:33:12

The MP failed to get cross party support for the real issue, which is about the intransigent policy handed down to schools about only "exceptional circumstances."
Luckily, in the public mind the debate will encompass all aspects of the issue, which is as good as can be hoped for right now.

I would love a debate about the real issue, which is the stress parents feel about requesting even small absences especially for family events like weddings, or the impacts on families like ours with foreign links. But we don't matter, dirty rotten foreigners and all that (sigh).

JackNoneReacher Fri 21-Feb-14 14:33:53

I've seen a mixture of views from teachers on MN. I'm referring to people I know who are teachers, not my own childrens teachers.

It probably does create some extra work for the teacher. But from what I've seen a good teacher uses it to the benefit of the child and the class. for eg integrating into the terms theme/asking the child to 'show and tell' something about their trip.

Most importantly for me is what you say about it being the families most able to afford term time trips that were taking time out. These are the families who will still have holidays (term time or pay the fines). It is the poorer ones who will be penalised.

JackNoneReacher Fri 21-Feb-14 14:35:43

You should have thought about term time absence before you married a foreigner lljkk.

Just joking but someone may actually say this soon... grin

lljkk Fri 21-Feb-14 14:36:16

Xpost: ph47 I can find some MN posters who say they are teachers and either don't care or explicitly don't like the new regulations, going so far as to call them absurd. It's not unanimous, not even on MN.

DD's secondary refused official Absence, yet the phone call to say so was gushing friendly "Wow! that's a fantastic opportunity we're sure she'll have a great time!
(but due to current legislation we can't authorise it)
Still we're sure it will be a wonderful experience! I'm sure she'll have great time!"

They don't really mind, but their hands are tied about what they do officially. Meanwhile the primary actually gave us AA. <<Shrug>>

pointythings Fri 21-Feb-14 14:38:41

I think the debate needs to be about the wider reintroduction of common sense. We hear frequent tales on here about parents who are being threatened with EWO visits or told to bring in GP notes for things like D&V. It is very easy for a child to have a streak of being ill - however the culture in too many schools now seems to be to disbelieve that the illness is genuine. Schools need to be told to back off on this issue.

I'm a bit on the fence about term time holidays, have never taken any myself and it would feel wrong for me - however, price rises are so out of this world extortionate during the school holidays that I can see why some families opt to go during term time. I don't consider myself to be more 'deserving' of a family holiday because we can afford to go during the school holidays, and I do think family holidays are genuinely important - not really a luxury at all.

However, what I feel is driving the response of many schools is fear - of OFSTED, of this control freak government who do not trust schools and teachers to do their job. And I completely understand where they are coming from.

lljkk Fri 21-Feb-14 14:38:45

I know, JNR, my crystal ball screwed up big time. We keep talking about immigration over there but that's a whole can of worms, too. My relatives think the whole situation is utter freaking madness.

I have gone so far as to tell anybody talking about immigrating to the UK to think very carefully about this issue if they still have family abroad. Most of my fellow ex-pats are stinking rich (I notice this whenever I go to the Embassy!) so they probably can negotiate the issue with school or at least cost isn't part of their dilemma.

JackNoneReacher Fri 21-Feb-14 14:40:54

Sounds like the stinking rich (ex pats or otherwise) wont have to concern themselves with this legislation.

NancyJones Fri 21-Feb-14 14:43:48

I'm not at all in favour. And I don't just say I am to keep the peace. I genuinely think, in the type of area I teach in, that a holiday in term time is better than no holiday at all.

Becles Fri 21-Feb-14 14:46:03

Hissy

To correct one aspect of your post - inset days are taken out of teacher's holidays NOT from the school term.

Rather than sprinkling the training days during the school term or middle of holidays when people will havw dispersed,most schools have them near the beginning of term.

prh47bridge Fri 21-Feb-14 14:52:10

It's not unanimous, not even on MN

Happy to accept that. I haven't read every single post (or, indeed, every single thread) on the subject. And as I say I am sure there are some teachers in favour of allowing term time holidays.

soverylucky Fri 21-Feb-14 14:53:14

It probably does create some extra work for the teacher. But from what I've seen a good teacher uses it to the benefit of the child and the class. for eg integrating into the terms theme/asking the child to 'show and tell' something about their trip.

Whilst this may work at primary level for a pupil who hasn't missed SATS for example the situation is quite different at secondary school. I can't imagine giving up precious times with my year 11's to hear about one of their pals experience of the Thompson all inclusive to majorca.

mummymeister Fri 21-Feb-14 14:53:17

I know a debate alone is far from perfect but if all the MN's who have posted on here just wrote to their MP by e mail to ask them to attend then at least the debate will have started. I know there are mixed feelings and if you feel strongly the other way then you are entitled to your opinion. I just honestly feel that this has been bought in without any proper thought or consultation, that H/T are using their discretion and some are sensible and some are not but that really this rule change does not address the real issue - kids routinely kept off school. sure at the end of this year Gove the mighty will be able to say "look everyone absence stats have gone down yippee" but the real issue will be out there and unaddressed.

tiggytape Fri 21-Feb-14 14:53:22

No doubt some do, but my personal experience of primary school teachers is that they recognise the benefit of children going on holiday even if it is in term time.

I guess it depends on the teacher and the school. I know many who are cross to have the summer term disrupted when between 1 and 5 children in the class are absent most weeks.
It delays starting new topics, means they have to help some catch up and makes planning hard.
And for H/T's it always meant trying to tread a fine line between dealing fairly with parents who felt it was their absolute right to take time off and trying to make sure attendance was good.

nancy75 Fri 21-Feb-14 15:00:24

I am against the rules, i have written about it here many times - DH is Australian, all of his family live in Australia sometimes things happen that mean we need to go a few days outside of school holidays.

If they are going to keep this ruling we need proper guidelines on what is and is not allowed. It should not be up to an individual head to decide if a funeral deserves a day off, or the wedding of a close family member.

NancyJones Fri 21-Feb-14 15:03:50

I never delay anything or ever give extra work before of after and that seems to be accepted.

soverylucky, I can absolutely see how different it is at secondary but at primary a huge amount of work can be set to incorporate it.

GotMyGoat Fri 21-Feb-14 15:08:50

There is something really quite disturbing about the fact that schools are allowed to dictate people's lives in such an intrusive fashion.

State education was partly made to keep the working class working, and if home ed is a viable option then why on earth can't state education be more flexible too?

mutters and shakes head about robot farming culture

OneInEight Fri 21-Feb-14 15:09:59

I have a solution, probably not original and undoubtedly will not be popular with the teachers, make the school year two weeks longer and let everyone take two weeks holiday whenever they want. Everyone then gets the magic 190 days education and everyone get's their family bonding trip and cheap prices.

To be honest all I really want is for my LA to educate my son - currently attendance at 40% and decreasing but that's a totally different argument. It does make fining for a few days holiday a bit ludicrous though.

NancyJones Fri 21-Feb-14 15:19:23

Oneineight, I'm all for cutting the summer back to 4wks and being paid for working the extra 2wks you propose! The extra money would come in handy!

tiggytape Fri 21-Feb-14 15:25:27

If they are going to keep this ruling we need proper guidelines on what is and is not allowed. It should not be up to an individual head to decide if a funeral deserves a day off, or the wedding of a close family member.

I think people misunderstand the assumption behind the law.
The assumption is no days off school for anything not long negotiations to try to win time off.

The assumption is full attendance apart from illness however, in order to avoid very genuine instances when this would cause suffering, a HT can step in and use their discretion - in rare cases.
As a rule of thumb that means something that is exceptional (usually a one-off) AND very obviously important AND not able to be arranged in term time. A family funeral is the most obvious example of this.

A holiday could fit under this criteria if a parent only has 2 months to live or is being posted abroad for the whole year but not if it is just to make a holiday in the sun more affordable.
A wedding may not count if it involves a long time away (eg if it is abroad and requires weeks off school) or if it is a weekday and not a close relative. It may count if it is the parents or sibling getting married and only requires one day off school especially if there is good reason why it has to be a weekday.

That is why H/T's have discretion. Not so they can wield power - the assumption is they must turn down all requests except in cases of such obvious and unavoidable need that they can use their discretion as a one-off. If the authorities drew up a list of what was allowed - the answer would be pretty much nothing whereas this way, those who know the family can have a small amoung of say over things.

OneInEight Fri 21-Feb-14 15:25:33

Yay, one supporter! Only fair you get paid extra NancyJones.

ProfessorSkullyMental Fri 21-Feb-14 15:28:38

what they need to do is give back heads discretion and outline the guidelines for that more easily.

tiggytape Fri 21-Feb-14 15:30:55

OneInEight - I doubt that would address one of the main issues with term time holidays which is the impact it has on the rest of the class.

Your plan potentially creates 60 weeks worth of disruption with the class affected by people returning and needing help to catch up or people leaving and missing the concert / play or activity that everyone else is working towards.
Practically every week would involve someone being absent. The summer term woudl probably see classes half empty for weeks on end. Each child would only have 2 weeks but each child would suffer far more than that by the comings and goings of everyone else and the teacher's efforts to plan around that and keep everyone up to speed.

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