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 16:55:34

Sorry, news story here.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 16:58:05

£60 oneoff...or perchild per day?

also,how do you measure how much your child learnt during 2 days in London? you don't know what he's missed in school. grin

'exceptional circumstances' is this HT discretion still?

CrapBag Thu 11-Jul-13 16:58:37

Many people will disagree with you but I don't.

I know they are trying to weed out people who always take their kids out of school, but I can't see it making a difference to them anyway.

We can only go on holiday in term time. I don't care if people say its not a right, they didn't go when they were little etc etc. I like taking my children on holiday and a few days off school, once in the year isn't going to hurt them (wouldn't do it at GCSE's or something like that).

Our holiday next year is already booked. I looked into changing it to half term or the start of the summer holidays. Its over £300 more for the 4 days. I'd rather take the fine, its more affordable.

CrapBag Thu 11-Jul-13 17:01:04

Its one off £60 or £120 if not within a certain number of days. No idea where this per child per day stuff is from. I have also heard its per parent even if they don't live with you. Haven't seen evidence of this either. Its not what this article says.

WestieMamma Thu 11-Jul-13 17:01:48

I'd just factor the £60 into the costs of my holiday.

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:02:12

Well SoulSister - I'd say based on recent experience my son just missed a few star jumps and having to say "I'm a wally." wink

I just don't think that most people take their kids out of school willy nilly for no good reason, and if they're not in the midst of their GCSEs, how bad can a few days be?

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

YANBU I see nothing wrong with the current system. There is no need for a zero tolerence approach imo.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 17:02:55

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

If you want to take your child to London, you'll just have to do it over a weekend or during one of the 12 weeks holiday they get per year.

That way the child gets educated both in and out of school.

KansasCityOctopus Thu 11-Jul-13 17:03:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:03:39

I was told per child per parent per day by a teacher the other night but can't find anything to back that up.

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:03:51

If your child is studying great fire of London in school,why did you need to take him on trip outside of school hours?? Was he not learning enough in school for you? At six??
You sound a bit overly .. I'm no quite sure what tbh!

Fines seem a lot but maybe you and the other parents take the kids out too much and it's disrupting their and others learning. So yabu

Floggingmolly Thu 11-Jul-13 17:05:48

If you think your child will learn more at home with you than in school, the option to deregister and home school is there...
You can't just decide on a weekend away and because it's vaguely "educational" (most places are, really), imagine it will make up for whatever the school will have taught in those two days.
That's what holidays are for.

CloudsAndTrees Thu 11-Jul-13 17:05:53

I don't think it's too heavy handed.

If you want to take advantage of the state education system, then you have to adhere to their rules instead of picking and choosing when you want to attend.

monicalewinski Thu 11-Jul-13 17:06:14

I agree with you Levvylife, especially re the summer holiday leave from work. Both me and my husband work full time, just about everyone at work has school age kids and we can't all get off at the same time.

Luckily our primary has decided to retain HT discretion for parents returning from deployments as it is a predominately military school, but the policy itself is VERY unnecessarily heavy handed IMO.

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:06:57

I didn't need to - we just wanted to! He's really interested in history, Henry VIII etc and we thought it would be a nice thing to do as we had the opportunity. His little mind was totally blown by the whole London experience and he still talks about it now. Hardly makes me a rampant tiger mother, does it?

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:08:20

And seriously - one day out of term is hardly two fingers up to the whole education system, is it, nor is it anything in the grander scheme of things. Perspective.

meddie Thu 11-Jul-13 17:10:56

Out of interest. Can they actually enforce this fine?

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:12:27

Not at all, in fact taking him out of school unnecessarily probably makes you the opposite of tiger mother... I just wondered were you one of those mothers whose kid has to be best and know most about t everything

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:12:51

I'd be interested to know that too meddie.

Also, if one single day of education is too significant to miss, does this mean the end of inset days and using schools as polling stations?

Levvylife Thu 11-Jul-13 17:13:41

ll31 have a biscuit.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 17:15:50

Yes they can enforce the fine

There were two cases in my local paper just over a year ago where a parent was sent to prison for failing to pay.

Anyway, the Gazette link doesn't work for me

So here are the amendments clearly set out on the DFE website

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:16:06

Big difference between days when school is closed officiAlly and parents keeping kids at home on different days continually

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Jul-13 17:16:56

I should add it wasn't just failure to pay. She'd been in constant trouble for failing to send her kids to school...but then she didn't pay the fines either.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 17:17:19

I think it must be a headache for the teachers tbh!!

maybe every week they have someone out of class on holiday and have to forever keep running after children to ensure they catch up

secondary school is what i'm thinking of here....I have 3 teens and when ds had his accident the teachers had to go to some lengths to ensure he caught up with coursework. this did mean quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing for him,them and ultimately,me.

he only had 9 days off

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.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

xylem8 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:44:22

'do you not feelany sense of,I don't know,community or loyalty to the school and their efforts to educate your children???'

umm no they are there to provide a service to the children not vice versa.This is about parents being seen as cash cows

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 17:44:36

it is not impossible for at least one of those to fall during the summer holidays.

Actually you would be surprised how many people can't take time off in the holidays. In STBX's old job it was written into his contract that he couldnt take time off in the school holidays (any of them) because that was their busiest time. It was accepted that if you worked there then you had to have your time of in term time. It didnt bother him when he started there as he hadnt met me and didnt have children, but it was a real PITA when we did get together as it meant we were really restricted.

Kendodd Thu 11-Jul-13 17:45:35

I want to take my children to Richard III funeral, that might be on a school day, I would argue this IS more valuable/educational than a day in primary school. I think it'll be worth the £60 fine.

HappyMummyOfOne Thu 11-Jul-13 17:45:57

Holidays are luxuries not rights. If you choose to send your children to school then you abide by your schools rules.

Too many dusrupt teachers and lessons by taking children out so the policy needed to be tougher. Children get 13 weeks holiday a year and 52 weekends. Its not hard to fit in fun things within that time.

Exceptional cicrumstances would not be finances or parents not getting time off in our school but funerals or close family wedding.

BalloonSlayer Thu 11-Jul-13 17:46:09

- sorry didn't finish what I was trying to say. I think that parents know that bugger all teaching/learning goes on at the end of term and they take their DCs away as they feel it doesn't matter, they won't miss anything important. And, at the moment, I think they are right. TBH I would think schools probably also don't bother too much as they think: what's the point? - so many DC are away.

Likewise SATS. Loads of families went away just after the SATS this year. If the school didn't make such a ridiculous drama out of it and stress all the children needlessly, would parents feel the need to take their DC away for a holiday immediately afterwards?

Kendodd Thu 11-Jul-13 17:47:41

btw, on the whole I don't think children should be taken out of school for a holiday, parents should just go somewhere cheaper on holiday.

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 17:48:09

Happy so every child who's parents isnt allowed time off in the summer due to the job itself of the fact that they must cover other staff, and those on low incomes simply have to go without a holiday?

Hows the weather in that ivory tower of yours?

BalloonSlayer Thu 11-Jul-13 17:49:41

Bogeyface then he would have proof and you would have been OK under the new system.

I am talking about people who work in bogstandard offices . . . you can just tell it's a lie because of the way they say it.

I do know someone who has a timeshare and they get told every year which weeks they are getting and have no control over it. I wonder what they will do or how that will fit in with the new rules. A bit of a bugger really, they are nice people.

LilacPeony Thu 11-Jul-13 17:50:39

The schools i know that do this are OFSTED outstanding. Schools that are bringing it in are wanting to be outstanding. So blame OFSTED.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 17:51:29

taking dc ot for 'educational' trips

how do you know what information to give to your dc? how do you know its accurate and in line with the curriculum? how do you adapt it to suit every childs curriculum stage if several siblings are going? how do you know you are educating them correctly if you aren't teachers??

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jul-13 17:53:59

It's still HT's discretion (and can be for more than 10 days). So if you can persuade your head that your holiday is exceptional (not just more affordable) then you can still have it approved.

And it's much better that this is a matter solely for the HT, a it is someone who is likely to know you and your DC and make a decent judgement about it. Actually, exactly as they did before - the old wording gave 'holiday' as an example, not an absolute entitlement.

Of course, some HTs do prefer their pupils to be at school every day that it is open (190, minus a few Royal weddings, snowstorms or polling days). That does leave nearly 50% of the year when they are not at school for other educational activities.

Of course, if you don't like the conditions that go with state schools, or the fines (introduced in 2003) for breaches, then don't use those schools. It's not an interference in family life to have/enforce arrangements for state schools provided that no-one is compelled to use them.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 17:54:28

I don't see a problem with it at all! If your child had otherwise good attendance and you take them away for a week at the beginning if July it really doesn't cause a major hole in their learning.
When I have taught in very deprived areas I have always supported parents going when it's cheaper. Very rarely could they afford even a uk holiday in August. It may not be a right but I do think it's of huge benefit both to the child and the family as a whole. I certainly know a holiday benefits me and my kids.

I hate the suggestion that just because a family is on a limited budget they should suck it up ANC miss out on that special week away. I teach Y6 and I damn well challenge anyone to walk into a Y6 class and pick out the child/ren who have a term time holiday once a year.

5madthings Thu 11-Jul-13 17:55:07

It can be very hard to spend any family time when your partner cant take leave in school holidays. He also works most weekends, only getting one weekend off a month and does evenings, double shifts, overnights etc. Its quite normal for dp to go days with out seeing the children as he goes out before they get up and then has a 36-40hr shift and isnt home till they are in bed etc.

If an employer restricts leave you ask them for a letter explaining this for school. The schools have always been able to ask for this but often didnt. Your employer should providr it. I think if self employed you have to show detrimemt to business etc for taking term time holiday.

The law really hasnt changed, its at the discretion of he ht as it always has been. The tgat some hts are just giving a blanket no leave policy. They need to use their discretion.

And i do think its unfair that poor families ate struggling to afford holidays. Yes its a luxury but a shory family break shouldnt be the preserve of the rich ffs.

ll31 Thu 11-Jul-13 17:55:24

Xylem8, that's a completely different attitude to mine, not saying either of us is wrong or right, but v interesting! Am off to consider the idea of school as a service rather than as a joint endeavour!!!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 17:59:20

I was thinking of older kids....history gcse etc

RafflesWay Thu 11-Jul-13 18:02:09

Personally I think all this is more to do with school ratings etc than so called, "Disruption" to education.

When I was at school - ok it was the 60's - teachers were allowed to use good old common sense - no ratings, OFSTED etc to worry about! Our education was of a way higher standard than it generally is nowadays and both the children and parents held genuine respect for the teachers.

My DH was a college lecturer for over 30 yrs and I saw the toll declining standards and constant inspections etc had upon both he and his colleagues.

I am really disappointed by some of the "inverted snobbery" being displayed on this thread by the sneering at families who genuinely can't afford the massive school holiday prices of holidays. Why should their children miss out on quality family time?? We COULD afford the high prices when our dd was school age and had no choice as DH had to take school holiday dates too. Also to suggest that nobody would have problems acquiring their holidays to fit in with schools has obviously NEVER worked in a large organization. I used to be Regional sales Manager for a huge international company and I have witnessed first hand the problems this can cause amongst employees with children. Wherever I could make exceptions I would do.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 18:05:44

Actually, I think having the attitude that learning can't possible take place outside of school is quite depressing.

Also, if you are going down the road of arguing that a museum visit isn't in line with the curriculum then it follows that you disagree with non curriculum days in scho such as red nose days or all the hundreds of jubilee teamed or Olympic themed days that took place last year.

hoppityhoppity Thu 11-Jul-13 18:07:03

We live in the US. It's really interesting to see the difference in attitudes. There are no rules at my DC's (primary) school re taking kids out in term time. A lot of people's family live in different States if not different countries so parents sometimes take kids out when family is visiting because family time is seen as important. It's a great school with very high standards and they seem to cope fine with kids being out. Absence is recorded, I am not sure if there is a level at which parents are spoke to.

fluffyraggies Thu 11-Jul-13 18:12:28

I've worked in a primary school and IME there the type of absences which are disruptive to the class or an individual child's education are the weekly day here, two days there, 'every other Friday' absences which occur with some children. Often due to nothing more than the parents not being arsed to get their kids into school regularly, having whole days off for dental/doc's appts. ect, or being kept off for minor sniffs and snivels. These days add up very quickly to far more than the 10 needed off for a good family bonding 2 week holiday.

A child taking an annual 1 or 2 week family holiday, out of a generally well attended school year, especially in primary school, is hardly going to ruin their chances of a degree at Oxbridge!

I think this law is the equivalent of the dog-licence. ie: going to make no difference to what/who it is trying to clamp down on.

nancy75 Thu 11-Jul-13 18:12:30

There are other reasons to go away in term time, my dh is Australian, last year a close relative was seriously I'll and we had to go in term time. Dd had to have it as an unauthorized absence because the head didn't think it was exceptional enough. Dd only had 4 days off as most of the trip fell during the school holidays. Next time I will lie and say she is ill

missmapp Thu 11-Jul-13 18:13:06

We cannot afford a holiday out of term time this gear, but as I am a teacher we cannot go any other time so will not be having a holiday this year. I don't suppose people will extend the same sympathies to teachers as they do to other families!

DuckworthLewis Thu 11-Jul-13 18:15:24

The legislation states that the parent can be fined for 'failing to ensure regular attendance'

It doesn't stipulate £60 for a single day of absence.

Ridiculously heavy handed - schools (and public sector organisations in general) really need to stop dreaming up policies that vaguely resemble a law and then dressing them up as being a legal requirement.

Worra I bet the parent you mention kept her daughter off school for way more than one day (so received a fine) and then refused to pay the fine (so went to prison). That's a very different situation.

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

I don't suppose people will extend the same sympathies to teachers as they do to other families!

Well I have some sympathy, but then you knew what you were getting into! Same as STBX, when he signed his contract he knew what it meant and when our circumstances changed, we just had to suck it up as that was the condition of his employment.

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 18:21:37

Actually, I do feel sorry for teachers not being able to have holidays; holidays are important for everyone. So I do genuinely sympathise with you, missmapp.

I find some of the attitudes towards this a bit nasty. Even back in the bad old days when people in factories got hardly any time off, they were still able to have holidays and it was expected that everyone including those on low incomes would spend that time away from home. Hell, weren't there even special trains and buses put on for them? But now in these brave new times those who genuinely can't afford to spend a week away from home together as a family are being told to suck it up, home school or go private by some people on this thread. So, for those who are saying this, you are officially worse than the old pit bosses (according to the Wallison School of Reckoning).

RafflesWay Thu 11-Jul-13 18:26:10

I will missmapp - my sympathies extend to anyone who can't afford a holiday and works damn hard all year! Teaching is tough these days. In fact life is hard for all workers these days. Hands up anyone who works hard - including SAHMs - and thinks the don't deserve a break??

RafflesWay Thu 11-Jul-13 18:27:04

THEY overworked IPAD!!

ARealDame Thu 11-Jul-13 18:28:30

Can I just say - people don't always do it to save money! There are lots of reasons you might need to take your child out of school. I think this is like a police state, this stuff, totally weird.

So that leaves responsible parents with a couple of alternatives 1. lie 2. pay the £60 fine 3. go to court.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 18:32:35

Well being restricted to sch hols is sort of balanced out by having so much of them IMO. So it's not having to take my holiday during sch hols that frustrated me but not being able to book the odd day off to do something special or even to stay home to get the boiler fixed or similar.

Tilly333 Thu 11-Jul-13 18:32:58

Perhaps they ought to do some bloody teaching then when they are there. I know its the end of the year but my DD has been watching films all week at school.. perhaps I could have taken her on holiday for cheaper than the normal holiday times instead of her being stuck in a hot classroom not learning anything about anything.. just watching transformers films! does my head in! (rant over)

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 18:33:34

What would happen if you dont pay? Surely the LEA has no authority in a legal sense to enforce these fines? Arent they a bit like the "fines" you get in a private car park in that they can hassle and threaten you to pay them but if you dont then there is bugger all they can do about it?

ARealDame Thu 11-Jul-13 18:34:43

Only at the end of term? My kitten watches films as "treats" at various times ... maybe the teacher has a hangover ...

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 18:36:03

Tilly I agree with the films etc.

There is the chicken and egg argument trotted out "Oh well there is no point teaching proper lessons as half the kids arent there" but I remember the last 2 weeks being like that when I was at primary school 30years ago, so that is BS!

Its fine to get stroppy with parents if there is genuine learning going on, but if taking your child out 2 weeks before the summer holidays start is the difference between going on hols and not going, then what is the harm? They are not learning anything anyway between school trips, sports days, film days, play days......

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 18:36:27

Indeed ARealDame. Off-peak holidays make things accessible to our disabled DS. We spend all the six weeks indoors avoiding crowds at the park and the pool during the day. It's great fun. Not.

DD has a condition which means that secondary skiing and foreign exchanges (during term-time I might add hmm) are out of the realms of possibility for her.

I wonder if the disability discrimination act and the requirement to make reasonable adjustments to ensure equality of opportunity might be useful to people with children like mine.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 18:37:08

Tilly, that is unacceptable. I will admit yo it being like that on the last afternoon in my class and we do do other exciting things not curriculum related in the final 2wks but why on earth would you not teach the entire last week? The class must be chaos will a bunch if restless bored kids. Much better to keep them under the thumb until the last day.

HeySoulSister Thu 11-Jul-13 18:42:53

there is life beyond primary.....our secondary school don't show films etc...mid june they start the next academic year,so those dead weeks at end of term don't exist. they are spent on new timetable/teachers etc so come sept everyone can get straight on with it

Tilly333 Thu 11-Jul-13 18:46:56

MaryK ...agree totally.. make them work, learn and test them up until the last but one day. Then give them a treat for all their efforts on the last day. My DD is bored, I would much rather take her away to see the Tower of London for the day, or up to the Lake district and see the countryside or anywhere out and about, rather than sit in the classroom watching stuff for rainy cold days at the weekends.

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 18:54:48

Talk about timing........

DD just handed me a letter and I immediately thought of this thread! SHe has 100% attendance so as a treat she is having a day out with the other 100%-ers at a lazer quest type place.

Clearly the school have not spotted the irony........

aldiwhore Thu 11-Jul-13 19:25:12

We will pay the fine.

We don't feel we should pay any fine. Our children are doing brilliantly, the ONLY time we can visit family or go on holiday is during term time, and though school is important, so is family time.

Xmasbaby11 Thu 11-Jul-13 19:28:45

YABU. I agree with that. Children have plenty of holidays and need to attend school during term time. There really have to be rules, and it's impossible to separate 'educational holiday' from other.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 11-Jul-13 19:37:43

This doesn't apply to us anymore as we H.ed now, but last year my dds attendance was well below 80%. The reason was normal absence for illness, couple of days, time out for music and dance exams, concerts shows, summer courses etc. Mostly organised by the LEA grin
It will be a shame if dc are refused this time off and it isn't considered as educated off site, anymore.
I do see both sides though, my older dc went to tiny village school with 30 kids, total. The last week of term there were only mine and a couple of others. They had great fun and the teachers could do some really practical fun things with them, but the dc at school felt hard done to during this week.

tiggytape Thu 11-Jul-13 19:40:32

What would happen if you dont pay? Surely the LEA has no authority in a legal sense to enforce these fines? Arent they a bit like the "fines" you get in a private car park

Yes they are enforecable and you can end up in court if you don't pay.
The fines are actually penalty notices with legal backing i.e. they are covered by an Act of Parliament. They aren't just a piece of paper the school issues in the hope you pay up.

greensmoothiegoddess Thu 11-Jul-13 19:40:51

Why are many people blaming the schools. The schools' hands are well and truly tied. It's the bloody government and our nanny state. Rise up, folks.

tiggytape Thu 11-Jul-13 19:42:54

And each parent can be fined for each child because each person with parental responsibilty is legally responsible for making sure the child is in school unless absent with permission.
So each person with parental responsibility commits an offence for each of their children if they are away (so a family with 2 children could be fined £120 for each parent)

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 19:45:51

Aldiwhore, I think your post should read,
'though school is important, family time is more so.'

missmapp Thu 11-Jul-13 19:50:41

Thanks for the kind messages- I don't really think I should complain, as I do have the summer off, but DH has been made redundant, I have had to go full time and now have holiday envy ( must move away from facebook photos!)!!!

Oh, and I am still on full timetable in my class- bored, restless year 6's is not what I need now!! The last day we have some games and a memory trail around school- but other than that it is business as usual!

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jul-13 19:51:23

"What would happen if you dont pay? Surely the LEA has no authority in a legal sense to enforce these fines? Arent they a bit like the "fines" you get in a private car park in that they can hassle and threaten you to pay them but if you dont then there is bugger all they can do about it?"

I'm afraid it's not remotely like that. The fines regime was introduced by Labour in the 2003 Antisocial Behaviour Act and has full force of law. If you contest the fine, it will go to court (can be raised to, I think £2,400 at this stage) and the penalty for non-payment of fines is prison. And yes, this has happened.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 19:55:46

grin grin grin @ the school rewarding 100% attendees by taking them to laser quest for the day!

StanleyLambchop Thu 11-Jul-13 19:57:35

I have a friend who is a dentist. The school holidays are the busiest time for her, because the schools have all requested that dentist appointments be after school or in the holidays so that it does not affect their attendance figures. So, come the holidays they are fully booked with all the children who could not come during term time. So she rarely gets to go on holiday with her own children as she can't take time off in the school holidays. Luckily her children's school has been understanding so far, but this may change next year with these new restrictions. In her circumstances I would say the fine is totally unfair- she has to sacrifice a holiday with her children because she is obliging the schools in providing appointments in holiday time!

Spikeytree Thu 11-Jul-13 19:58:26

What gets my goat is the parents who expect staff to bend over backwards to catch their child up after a term-time holiday. I barely have enough lunch time to catch up with the kids who have been off through illness and have missed controlled assessment etc, so when am I supposed to find time to go over two weeks worth of GCSE content? The idea of borrowing someone's book and copying up seems completely alien to most of the kids in my school, so the parents ring in an expect extra classes just for their child.

We are on activities week at the moment - every activity has an objective linked to the NC, and measurable learning outcomes. They aren't jollies and there will be no DVDs here - we teach until 15:30 next Friday.

Bogeyface Thu 11-Jul-13 19:59:00

Wow, I didnt realise that about the fines, thanks for the info. Not that it makes much difference as thanks to redundancy I am more likely to walk to the moon than go on holiday!

Mary, mad isnt it?!

ThoughtfulSilence Thu 11-Jul-13 20:00:17

Are the fines per child, per day? I thought they were per child per 10 sessions, ie. a school week.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 20:00:24

grin at Bogeyface and school not spotting the irony. My DD has 100% attendance in theory but has already missed two days since half term. One to a clinic appointment at midday forty miles away in the city and one for an ultrasound, again around noon. No sick days, no malingering. I wonder if she would be allowed to go on that trip?

Sparklymommy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:01:03

This is not well thought out and after receiving a similar letter from my dc's school have decided to take our oldest dd out of school and home educate. She has, this year, had five afternoons off in December for Panto (when I asked the head what these new rules meant for Panto she advices we didn't audition!!), a few sessions for exams, a dy for a dance festival, a day for an audition in London and three days with tonsillitis. My ds1 and ds2 have 100% attendance. Therefore, so that dd can continue with her performance related oppurtunities we have decided to home educate.

As I understand it the fine is £60 per child, per parent, per week.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 11-Jul-13 20:08:32


So glad you were able to reach a decision, in terms of performance as I said on previous threads, the freedom has really boosted dds opportunities which in turn will enable her to reach her goals.
Good luck.

AudrinaAdare Thu 11-Jul-13 20:08:42

How will per parent, per child work? I haven't seen a penny from XH in thirteen years although he has P.R. I'm not even sure where he is tbh.

According to the school policy though, an adult who normally lives with and looks after the child has P.R in their view and can be contacted in case of emergency, receive progress reports etc. So that would be DH and he would have to pay the fine as well.

P.R is legally defined, surely? Can a bio father and step-father both have it?

Sparklymommy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:14:28

Thanks potato.

It's been a big decision, but as of the 1st of September she will be HE. For a years trial to start with. Dh is still unsure but has finally agreed to let us try.

Dd had better get into Panto after all this! Lol!

JakeBullet Thu 11-Jul-13 20:21:41

I think this will pan out okay. Our school has a large community of folk from across the world and quite often the "once every two years" holiday to see grandparents back home DOES clash with term time. As a Governor I know our Head will always authorise this as "an exceptional circumstance".

I think it is going to be those who regularly take time off in term time who will be hit by this.

I have only ever done this on one occasion and it was when MIL paid for us to go on holiday as a surprise (bless her, so grateful we were) and it was term time. Only four days but great fun.

I am guessing that now it might not be authorised though.

gandalfcat Thu 11-Jul-13 20:26:55

we got "the letter" but as well as warning of fines, we are told "the government may notify the airports"!! Very Big Brother, but perhaps I'll go through the tunnel!!

Seriously, I have never taken DS out of school for holidays, but the letter made me feel like I really wanted to!

YoureAllABunchOfBastards Thu 11-Jul-13 20:27:56

It isn't the schools who are doing this.

And fines are not automatic - in our county it has to go to the legal team who then decide to prosecute and issue fixed penalty notices.

We have tried to explain this by saying that, as we say now, all holiday counts as unauthorised absence, unless there are exceptional circumstances - we have a child with a terminally ill sister, for example, who is going away with her and the rest of the family, and we are authorising that absence. We are not authorising the absence of the child in the same class who has been on holiday and missed two GCSE exams and will miss another if he takes the holiday he has just told us about.

We send warning letter at 92% and refer to legal at 85%, I think.

themaltesecat Thu 11-Jul-13 20:29:07

Another of the many reasons we won't be bringing up our half-English child in this country. Fucking ridiculous. Who the fuck do they think they are?

Sparklymommy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:31:25

What annoys me though, is the fact I informed the school dd had a London audition and asked for work to be sent home with her so that she wouldn't be missing it. Lecture about unauthorised absence; no work sent home for her to do!

LilacPeony Thu 11-Jul-13 20:33:41

"the government may notify the airports"!! shock Oh my God! I am imagining families with suitcases on their way to Majorca being wrestled to the ground by a SWAT team!

TheCrackFox Thu 11-Jul-13 20:49:05

I am completely confident that the government will not /cannot inform the airports! What over zealous official composed that letter?

Wallison Thu 11-Jul-13 21:00:02

grin @ notifying the airports. So now security staff not only have to look out for people with bombs in their shoes/bottles of milk, but also families with children of school-age, in case they try to flee the country (for a week).

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MaryKatharine Thu 11-Jul-13 21:06:54

sparkly, whilst I have no issues with term time holidays I absolutely refuse to send extra work home either for or after that holiday. Go if you feel it is right for your family but do not expect me to increase my workload because of it.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

And don't forget, with different counties having different holidays, security staff will have real problems.

It's overkill.

We are in NZ. To visit grandparents in anything like decent weather, the children would have to miss a couple of weeks of term as there is no long Jul/Aug break.

I recently asked the school about this, and the reply was that while it was not encouraged, it was common enough and was not a matter of particular concern.

Furthermore, while I suspect that claiming a day out is educational is a bit of a fig leaf sometimes, it's a perfectly valid point. Educating a child is not some mystic art that only teachers can perform. Furthermore, there is far, far more to education than the fecking National Curriculum, for Pete's sake.

KobayashiMaru Thu 11-Jul-13 21:15:49

I'd tell them to bite me.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

manicinsomniac Thu 11-Jul-13 21:23:52

bogeyface - how are sports days, play days and school trips not educational? Not all education has to be about maths, English and textbooks. I'll give you film days but even then, it depends on the film.

A good end of term programme should be both fun and educational. Not difficult to achieve. Children don't even (ime) enjoy being stuck in front of films for lesson after lesson anyway so I don't know why some teachers bother, it's not worth the moans. My classes have done things like 6 legged scavenger hunts (PSHE), reading in trees (English) and battle reenactment with water pistols (History) this week. We've also had things on for the oldest children like a leavers' pantomime, first aid course and charity work. I don't think that kind of thing is 'not worth being there' for and I think most schools do these sorts of activities rather than endless films and toy days nowadays.

Having said that, I don't think it's a cardinal sin to take your kid out of school as and when you need to. Our parents do it all the time for the most genuine and asinine of reasons.

LedaOfSparta Thu 11-Jul-13 21:33:10

What about us Forces families? I hope that'll come under exceptional circumstances or my DC won't get to spend another chunk of time with their dad for aaaages.

AuntieStella Thu 11-Jul-13 21:35:53

There is no automatic let out for Forces Families. Various documents on The Military Coevenant state that it would be good practice for HTs to authorise leave for when a parent returns from a deployment. But it does not say they must do so - it's always HT's discretion.

monicalewinski Thu 11-Jul-13 22:18:42

Our primary is counting post deployment as special circumstances ledaOfSparta, it's worth specifically asking that question at yours.

sassytheFIRST Thu 11-Jul-13 22:35:03

What makes me RAGE about this policy is that the govt could regulate the travel industry. It's them that inflate prices to ridiculous levels during school hols, meaning many parents choose to take kids out of school as the hol of their choice would otherwise be unaffordable.

But to go after parents and schools is easier than to take on a private sector industry.

gandalfcat Thu 11-Jul-13 22:50:50

Absolutely agree that the airport threat is empty and meaningless, which is why it's inclusion in an otherwise factual letter made me rage! maybe those sniffer drugs are all on a special course right now learning to detect children? or perhaps each airport will have their own chitty-chitty style child catcher!

Dorange Thu 11-Jul-13 22:58:45

I took my daughter out of school to go to the Paralympic games. I could just get tickets for a Friday. Shouldn't we have gone?

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wallison Fri 12-Jul-13 00:05:14

Trouble is that there is a lot of pressure from Ofsted, so I can see why Heads are bowing to it. Also, attendance comes under the same heading as children's safety etc or whatever it's called, which is a massive consideration for parents when choosing a school. So a school will get marked down on that area just because of attendance, when actually the kids that are in school are ok, and it does look bad, so of course Heads are worried about it.

It's all a crock of shit though, really. I've already said this, but the reasons behind chronic non-attendance are myriad and pretty much always nothing to do with the school but to do with home circumstances and parents who have the kind of lives where getting kids to school every day on time or indeed at all is a struggle. Fining people for having the odd week in Spain does nothing to address this, and even if the families who take holidays in term-time were the real problem, £60 is not going to deter them - for eg it's certainly not going to deter me. It's just typical of this govt that they think they have to be seen to be 'doing something' about non-attendance figures so they'll go for this option which actually doesn't do anything about the kids whose need for an education falls by the wayside because of problems at home.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 00:36:26

I worked in a school which had chronically bad attendance. Small class of twenty three because of split year groups but only ever about thirteen in each day. Sometimes as low as seven on cold days.

The children would walk alone through a vast estate from the age of five to cross a major road with the help of the lollipop man. Some would be accompanied by parents if on the way to the shops. Some parents would be swigging from cans of beer.

The family needing lots of support with addiction and socio-economic deprivation pissed off to Greece for three weeks in September. Their DS had burned down three houses and they were still leaving lighters around. The older child desperately wanted to go into care.

One little chap couldn't come in much because his mother had fallen foul of the dealers on the estate and she daren't leave the house from morning until night for weeks on end. He was taken into foster care, appeared back clothed in actual uniform which fitted him and not smelling of faeces for a week then disappeared again.

Another lovely boy never attended on Mondays because Dad was on his own with him and spent all weekend with his GF in London. It was given that he would not be at school on that day. Every Monday of every week.

Two of the year three girls were so badly beaten by slightly older junior pupils (one who heard voices and was given NO support) that they needed surgery.

One seven year old was raped and given an awful infection by her grandmother's boyfriend.

Two little girls were heard telling the boys to lick their pussies.

All in one term.

There was a poster about attendance in the school hall showing a cheering crowd of children hoisting a child holding a cup onto their shoulders with the winner's face blanked out. The caption was something along the lines of, "well one day doesn't matter, does it? They won't miss much"

It was so bloody Enid Blyton and outside the experience of the parents and children that it was grimly laughable.

Yes, there are many reasons for lack of attendance.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 01:55:03

Sorry, I meant to say in case the purpose of my post was unclear, that the people monitoring attendance would be far better employed sorting out these horrible issues than pursuing decent parents through the courts.

grumpyoldbat Fri 12-Jul-13 08:34:29

TBH I'm getting fed up with my daughter's education being disrupted by the holidays of others. One week the start of a new topic is delayed because Mary is on holiday, the next week my dd misses 'golden time' so she can help Mary catch up. The next week they don't start the new book as originally promised because Jessica is on holiday and so on for 10 different holidays.

So people saying their children haven't missed anything are probably right. The whole class have been held back for their benefit.

echt Fri 12-Jul-13 08:44:13

I'd have a word with 1) the teacher, and if no joy 2) the HT. While I set work for holidaymakers if they ask, I do not do catch-up lessons, just send them the reading/writing tasks they've missed and they can do it in their own time.

I've never held a class back because of a child's absence. The teacher's being slack; she's avoiding the catch-up pain and passing it on to other children. Unacceptable.

greensmoothiegoddess Fri 12-Jul-13 09:38:14

BeerTricksPotter - rest assured that the spectre of Ofsted hangs over all Headteachers who will have to justify absence percentages (both authorised and unauthorised) with associated paper trails to them. There is a kulcha of FEAR. It seems to have happened by stealth and has slowly crept into the system.

Again, don't blame the schools

greensmoothiegoddess Fri 12-Jul-13 09:42:52

Oh and for Ofsted, read Government!

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

greensmoothiegoddess Fri 12-Jul-13 10:19:24

There has to be a corporate approach rather than piecemeal. And who can organise this and how at school level? Especially in the current climate of fear. And it IS fear. Go into any school. Ofsted has got every school in a state. And no one wants to put their head above the parapet.

*Sigh. The least they can hope is that parents are on side.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

monicalewinski Fri 12-Jul-13 16:07:40

AudrinaAdare, wow. That's awful to read, it's so easy to forget in your own day to day life that there are children growing up like this. It really is so bloody sad that children in these areas/circumstances have never had a chance from the beginning; I've nothing of value to add, but I didn't want to ignore your post.

Worriedmind Fri 12-Jul-13 16:38:27

In dds old school it went from third week in September to the following March and out of a class of 12 they did not have one week in that time where everyone was in school every single day.

We're lucky we mostly have a choice, but for families where both parents work, or certain professions, taking leave during school holidays is not always allowed. Cost is a big factor too, but for many it is simply being able to take time off. It should be at the head's discretion.

AudrinaAdare Fri 12-Jul-13 21:27:43

It was hard to write, and to sleep last night, monicalewinski, and that's with over ten years between me and those lovely children thanks

Wallison Sun 14-Jul-13 13:02:41

AudrinaAdare, that post made for sobering reading and thank you for sharing your experience with us. Those children and the children who are in similar circumstances to them now will not be helped in the slightest by this 'crackdown' on term-time absences.

Tailtwister Sun 14-Jul-13 13:07:44

Well, I do think it sound over the top and like others have already said it probably won't do anything about repeat offenders.

However, I don't just think it's the individual child who's affected by them taking days off school. It involves extra work for the teacher to ensure that child catches up and that's bound to have a knock on effect on the other pupils.

usuallyright Sun 14-Jul-13 13:26:02

there'll be more kids 'off sick' than before. I occasionally let mine have the last week/few days off in the summer term cos they a)do fuck all and b) holidays cost a lot less.
They can fuck off with their fine though.
I'll say they're ill.

Fakebook Sun 14-Jul-13 13:46:46

I'll just pay the fine for the next few years. Dd is 6 in November. I'm sure missing a few weeks of school a year isn't going to affect her education when it comes to GCSE's.

rabbitlady Sun 14-Jul-13 13:52:29

the next step, after a fine, will be to remove your child's name from the school register.
your off-roll child will be free to holiday with you at any time.

AmberLeaf Sun 14-Jul-13 14:26:35

It's a load of bollocks.

So low earners can no longer go on holiday then? [I don't necessarily mean foreign holidays either] Holidays during school holiday times are extortionate.

There are other reasons why some people take term time holidays too, no way could my son cope with the numbers of people anywhere during school hol times. Audrina like you and for the same reason, we spend a lot of the time during school hols sat at home avoiding the crowds.

usuallyright Sun 14-Jul-13 21:28:32

*the next step, after a fine, will be to remove your child's name from the school register.
your off-roll child will be free to holiday with you at any time*

Oooh, scary.
not so much.

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