Term-time absences banned by Gove? Have you heard anything?

(211 Posts)
FantasticDay Wed 12-Jun-13 13:43:22

Just that really. A colleagues had heard that all schools had received a letter from the Education Minister saying that term-time absences were not to be authorised. I wondered if any of school staff on here could confirm /deny? Cheers.

MirandaWest Wed 12-Jun-13 13:48:14

We had an email from school a couple of months ago (roughly) saying that from Septwmber 2013 leave could only be authorised in exceptional circumstances. As far as I was concerned this is what it has always been but I know lots of people believe there is an entitlement to 10 days holiday per year.

FantasticDay Wed 12-Jun-13 13:56:45

Thanks Miranda. I didn't think there was an entitlement, but have a friend considering a trip to visit family in Sudan that wouldn't be possible any other time, and I wondered if there was now a steer from the top that there was absolute ban.

How could they outright ban though, I wonder. You could make it an unattractive option (e.g. through fines) but how would you impose an actual ban? 'Take so much as one step towards the airport in term time and I'll have the chair of governors hanging off your bags, quick as!' Sounds a bit unworkable.

I suppose you could say,'Go on holiday during term time and your child will lose their place at this school,' but that would seem to be counterproductive.

I can't see how it can be any more 'banned' than it already is, apart from maybe hiking up the fines.

Manchesterhistorygirl Wed 12-Jun-13 14:04:04

Yes, I went in yesterday to see head about taking ds1 out in a few weeks. She said from September no leave would be authorised at all and they were getting rid of forms to even request it.

5madthings Wed 12-Jun-13 14:07:32

Our school is carrying on the same,e as normal ie only in exceptional circumstances, so for us as dp cannot be leave in school holidays that counts as 'exceptional' and will therefore be author used.

scaevola Wed 12-Jun-13 14:07:36

Theree's a minor change which means the verbiage in the 1996 Act which mentions holidays is being removed. Heads can still authorise up to 10 days in exceptional circumstances.

The regime of fines for unauthorised absences (introduced 2003) remains as well.

nohalfmeasures Wed 12-Jun-13 14:11:25

Then it's just recorded as an unauthorised absence.
We had to ask for a day of for a wedding and were told it would be unauthorised. It depends on the head teacher if further action is taken- I guess if it becomes a pattern they might.
Interestingly, in Scotland, with the "new curriculum which doesn't really exist" there is a leaning to a much broader "life experience", so if trip has an educational slant it's could be considered to be "enhancing life skills"

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 15:17:33

Too many unauthorised absences from pupils at the school and the school will have OFSTED coming to visit.

Up to 10 days holiday in term time used to be specifically permitted by the legislation in "special circumstances" and any more than that only in "exceptional circumstances." Now, no leave of any sort will be allowed unless "exceptional circumstances." Some schools are playing chicken and not daring countenance the idea that a holiday could ever be an "exceptional circumstance" but effectively it's up to the HT to decide what's exceptional and what isn't. A holiday every year wouldn't be very exceptional, but a once in a lifetime trip, or visit to long lost relatives ought to be, imo, if only I were a HT!

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 12-Jun-13 17:18:21

So what happens to the parent if there are unauthorised absences?

scaevola Wed 12-Jun-13 17:22:04

Worst case, parents are fined (and can be imprisoned for non-payment - yes that really happened under the last government).

Most LEAs only start the cascade of intervention (referral to EWO etc) if there is a lengthy absence, or repeated shorter ones. But in theory it could be activated for any unauthorised absence at all.

NewFerry Wed 12-Jun-13 18:49:55

So what about 1/2 day absences to take part in drama festival? Head teacher authorised this for dd in March, are we saying this too would be outlawed from September?

5madthings Wed 12-Jun-13 18:56:47

No newferry it is still at the discretion of the ht, they decide what counts as 'exceptional circumstances' so it will vary from one to another what they allow.

Ours seems to be quite good and use common sense but others do not.

exoticfruits Wed 12-Jun-13 19:05:25

Our LEA had a letter about 4 years ago saying that they would not be authorised. Some schools take it further ad fine.

HeySoulSister Wed 12-Jun-13 19:07:24

I predict lots if sick children with week long 'illnesses'

NewFerry Wed 12-Jun-13 19:15:02

5madthings - good to hear, thank you

CPtart Wed 12-Jun-13 19:21:23

I too agree about the "illnesses." Particularly in the last two weeks of school before summer holidays when instead of watching DVD's every day parents will prefer to risk whisking their DC off to sunnier climes. The sun tan has time to fade too before new term in September!

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 19:30:42

Exactly, HeySoulSister. It's a great way of turning more people into liars or rule breakers, thus setting a very poor example to their children; particularly in the schools that pretend no holidays are allowed at all any more, which is not what the legislation says, it's just what headteachers say when they don't want to be hassled.

kayakaya Wed 12-Jun-13 19:59:08

I have never understood why schools or the govt think they can dictate to parents about this. A school simply provides a service, which we pay for through our taxes. As far as I'm concerned it's then up to me if I choose to not use that service for week because I've taken my child on holiday.

scaevola Wed 12-Jun-13 20:01:16

If you pit your child into state school you have to accept the basic T&Cs, which include attendance.

If you don't want to be bound by that, you do not need to use schools at all.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 20:47:42

The terms and conditions do not include full attendance at all times, no matter the circumstances, scaevola. And different state schools use their discretion differently, whereas most parents don't in reality have much, if any, choice of state schools. It's a little bit OTT to suggest that someone who still wants to take their child out of school two days early at the end of the summer term should opt out of state education altogether if their school won't allow it. grin

joanofarchitrave Wed 12-Jun-13 20:51:27

''Take so much as one step towards the airport in term time and I'll have the chair of governors hanging off your bags, quick as!"

grin georgian

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 20:56:36

Chair of governors would only be hanging off bags to try and get a free ride to a nice, hot destination. grin

Moxiegirl Wed 12-Jun-13 20:59:46

Well then inflating holiday prices outside of term time should also be banned!

topknob Wed 12-Jun-13 21:15:36

what moxie said !

scaevola Wed 12-Jun-13 21:19:33

You have to abide by the law, which includes attendance, if yo go for state schooling. Which means other than (genuine) illness, agreed flexi-schooling, or authorised absence, your DC must attend.

If you don't want to be bound by that, don't use state schools. That's not OTT, it's the pragmatic solution for those who can't fit round term dates.

BoneyBackJefferson Wed 12-Jun-13 21:33:44

kayakaya
"A school simply provides a service"

Wow, really just Wow.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 22:35:39

scaevola - I think you will find that parents who opt out of state education have to abide by the law, too. confused Not everyone does abide by the law, though, but by not abiding by the law, they are not excluded from anything offered by the state - in fact, I think you'll find our criminal justice system is currently provided by the state.

exoticfruits Wed 12-Jun-13 22:36:47

Just as well that kayakaya doesn't live in my area- the LEA don't see it her way!

exoticfruits Wed 12-Jun-13 22:37:48

I know at least one school that would fine her.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 22:38:29

It's one thing fining a parent and another thing actually getting the money out of them.

Can I just shoehorn in here that the last week of term is not spent 'watching DVDs'? I know someone will say, 'Well at my dd's school they do.' That they might, but it a'int general practise. They don't do it where I work, nor where I worked previously.

rabbitstew Wed 12-Jun-13 22:42:07

As for the law, the law permits parents to take their children on holiday during term time in exceptional circumstances. The headteacher can decide what exceptional circumstances are. The result is, some parents in some schools can still take their children on holiday if the headteacher, having reviewed the reasons given for the holiday being taken during term time, the child's behaviour, attendance and achievement record, decides that a term time holiday would do them no harm and might even be beneficial in the circumstances, and in other schools, this would never be allowed.

And I know this, because I am sufficiently lowly that it would be me supervising the whole school in front of 'Tangled' and it's never happened yet.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 12-Jun-13 22:48:39

Kayakaya - The school don't 'provide a service'. If you register your child then you can't pick and choose when to send them. It's a criminal offence - failure to secure regular attendance at school of registered pupil.

That said the current DfE guidelines say that schools should not have a blanket ban and should consider all applications for leave on an individual basis.

wrongmove Wed 12-Jun-13 22:51:00

It's o.k though for schools to keep disabled children on part time hours for months or more without an education? hmm
It seems rather hypocritical to ban some absences but enforce them on some children when it suits.

OttilieKnackered Wed 12-Jun-13 22:52:51

I assume all the parents who see 'no harm' in taking their children out for a normal holiday would see no harm in the child's teacher doing the same. It's only one week in 13 years, right?

dollybird Wed 12-Jun-13 22:57:47

we haven't taken any time out during term time this year as DS had SATs but last year, having previously written virtually an essay about why we needed two days off tagged onto Feb half term and then discovering DS's friend's teacher mum regularly takes her DC out of school for a week at a time 'because it's her right to go on holiday when they want to', we simply wrote to the HT and said 'DS and DD will not be in school on X day as we will be returning from holiday over half term. No different really to phoning in sick when they never ask what's wrong or ask for a letter on return (although most my DC have been off sick for is 2 days).

We wouldn't generally have a term-time holiday simply because we don't have enough holiday to cover school holidays and weeks off in term time! The cost of additional holiday childcare would probably make up a lot of the difference in price of the holiday

BoneyBackJefferson Thu 13-Jun-13 06:27:21

"then discovering DS's friend's teacher mum regularly takes her DC out of school for a week at a time 'because it's her right to go on holiday when they want to'"

I would love to know where these teachers work, as I have never worked in a school where that would be allowed.

rubyrubyruby Thu 13-Jun-13 06:29:17

I had better get my form in quick then!

scaevola Thu 13-Jun-13 06:34:03

Yes, of course I know that home education is legal, that's why I recommend it to those who don't want to be fussed with term-times and other attendance issues.

It's not compulsory to use something just because the state provides it, and it will remain in place should people want to opt in later. It's nothing to do with whether people are criminals or not.

It is however to do with your ethos and priorities in family life. And if attendance is a low priority, and you see greater educational value out of a classroom rather than in it, then school-based lessons are not going to be a particularly suitable option.

rubyrubyruby Thu 13-Jun-13 06:35:58

I didn't read to end of thread so didn't realise this had turned into a bit of an argument so apologise for my flippant comment

Blueskiesandbuttercups Thu 13-Jun-13 06:48:15

It's utterly ridiculous and unfair.Holidays and experiences aren't a privilege they're hugely beneficial,educational and shouldn't just be the lot of rich kids eg Gove's,Cameron's kids.

Even camping now in the holidays is out of a lot of family's league.

Given that my kids seem to do sweet fa in the last few weeks at school there is no justification for the sledge hammer to crack a nut approach.The truants will still truant.

Will be signing whatever needs to be signed.

Growlithe Thu 13-Jun-13 07:03:20

Does anyone know if unauthorised absences on a child's record would affect the secondary school selection process? Genuine question BTW.

scaevola Thu 13-Jun-13 07:05:28

I doubt there is anything that can be done to change this. The legislation was passed in 2011.

The change to the verbiage really is very slight, and absences remain totally up to the HT's discretion. All that has been removed is the list of examples (that were often mistaken as entitlements).

There has been no change, even with this redraft, since 1996 to the actual entitlement, other than the introduction of fines (non-payment of which can lead to prison) by Labour in 2003.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Jun-13 07:06:20

Depends on how many you have Growlithe.
I don't think there has been a problem collecting the fines, rabbitstew.

scaevola Thu 13-Jun-13 07:06:26

Growlithe no, absence record isn't a permitted criteria for school entrance.

scaevola Thu 13-Jun-13 07:07:33

That's entrance to state secondaries: private schools can select on what they wish and can request you provide a reference including attendance.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Jun-13 07:07:58

The letter came from our LEA saying that it was no longer up to the HTs discretion. That was at least 4yrs ago.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 13-Jun-13 07:16:04

Holiday prices are not inflated out of term time, they are reduced during term time.

mrsravelstein Thu 13-Jun-13 07:29:30

ds1's school don't allow absences for holiday, so i just called him in sick for the 2 days we needed before half term, and told him he had to lie if school asked about when he'd left for hols. ds2's school do allow holiday absences so we filled in the form to request the 2 days, which was granted as it's the only time he's had off since starting school. seems perfectly obvious to me which is the better system.

5madthings Thu 13-Jun-13 07:41:51

But the gov legislation says it is up to the ht's discretion exotic which is how it should be and makes sense, most ht's should know the family well enough to know if they are taking the piss or not.

I do value attendance but when dp cannot get time off in the school holidays what are we supposed to do?

CottonWoolWrapper Thu 13-Jun-13 07:59:48

I would love to see (for primary at any rate) the long summer holidays reduced by 2 weeks and parents and teachers given 2 weeks of bookable annual leave instead. Teachers would need to book in advance and be covered by supply teachers and pupils would only be allowed to go if they weren't supposed to be taking SATs or doing something else of vital importance.

Those that like the current system could stick with a six week summer break. The semi broke could enjoy a cheaper holiday. The really broke could get an extra two weeks of pay in the case of teachers or an extra two weeks of not having to pay for holiday camp in the case of working parents. Everyone should be happy apart from the admin office processing the requests.

The fatal flaw I guess is having to pay for an extra two weeks of teaching time each year. Still someone (Gove I think) was suggesting that anyway. This would be far more fun.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 13-Jun-13 08:46:15

If anyone could book holiday at any time, term time holiday prices would rise.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 08:52:48

TheDoctrineOfAllan - I think you'll find it's a bit of both. To make a profit, you have to charge more than the holiday costs in the first place, so if you are cutting prices out of school holidays, you have to charge more in school holidays to make up for it...

exoticfruits - I think you will find that there is a problem collecting fines from families who don't give a toss. How much time do you think a school really wants to spend chasing up its problem families for cash?

scaevola - I think you are still making a bit of a mountain out of what for many families would be a 2-day issue... not all families who think that once in a blue moon a holiday overlapping with school term time would be more beneficial than school are families who in general have an issue with the idea that their children are expected to attend school regularly...

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:08:47

It really is too simplistic to talk about prices going up and down anyway. Holiday companies run an annual pricing model. Ideally they would like, say, 90% occupancy all year round. They may well be able to achieve near 100% occupancy in the school holidays but only 50% occupancy in term time. If they can charge £1000 for the holiday in the school holidays and get 100% occupancy at that price, that's what they'll do. If they charge £1,500 and only get 80% occupancy, they will make a judgement which is more profitable.

Similarly in term time.. If they price at £1,000 again they may get 20% occupancy, if they price at £600 that might go up to 50% occupancy. So again they judge the profitability and price accordingly.

So it's not really possible to talk about prices rising and falling as a holiday company takes a year round view of the best way to hit its profit target - there is no "set" price from which prices go up or down.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 13-Jun-13 09:10:06

Re fines, I think the local authority chases them, not the school.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 09:55:35

I agree, it's too simplistic to talk about prices going up and down. Re fines: often, nobody chases them, that's my point... I was told the primary responsibility is on the school to chase them up, though - and I'm sure you won't catch LAs chasing up academy and free schools' fines for them!

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 13:07:26

Re fines: often, nobody chases them, that's my point

Over 41,000 penalty notices were issued in 2011/12. This figure is going up rapidly - in 2009/10 less than 26,000 penalty notices were issued.

Of the penalty notices issued in 2011/12 over 8,500 were unpaid after 42 days. Nearly 6,500 parents were prosecuted for non-payment. Given these figures I wouldn't rely on not being chased. By the way, the latest changes mean you now only get 21 days to pay at the reduced rate and risk prosecution if the fine remains unpaid after 28 days.

I'm sure you won't catch LAs chasing up academy and free schools' fines for them

Oh yes you will. Even if the school issues the penalty notice the fine is payable to the LA, not the school. The LA is responsible for prosecuting non-payers. Under the regulations the LA must either prosecute non-payers or withdraw the penalty notice. That applies for all schools in the LA's area including academies and free schools.

TryDrawing Thu 13-Jun-13 13:25:34

How much are the fines?

exoticfruits Thu 13-Jun-13 13:41:20

But the gov legislation says it is up to the ht's discretion exotic which is how it should be and makes sense, most ht's should know the family well enough to know if they are taking the piss or not

That is why the letter came home from the LEA saying that holidays would be unauthorised absences.

exoticfruits - I think you will find that there is a problem collecting fines from families who don't give a toss. How much time do you think a school really wants to spend chasing up its problem families for cash?

I think, as others have said, that it isn't the schools chasing them up. I can't say about families who 'don't give a toss', but responsible parents will want their DC to have a good school record when it comes to writing references etc.

I'm not saying that I agree with it-I have taken DCs out in term time in the past-I am just stating facts in my LEA.

exoticfruits Thu 13-Jun-13 13:43:41

I don't know what the fines are-it appears to be up to the school, as far as I know, whether they impose fines or not.

Fenton Thu 13-Jun-13 13:48:23

I recently took the children out of school for a holiday - had to have an interrogation interview with the Head beforehand.

She told me that I was effectively taking an unauthorised absence as they weren't authorising any holidays but that she would not be imposing a fine.

The school doesn't get the fine money - this goes to the Local Government.

She was actually very reasonable about it and understood my reasons, - age of children/ flight price hikes etc.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 13:59:23

The amount of the fine is not up to the school. It is set by the government and is currently £60 rising to £120 if it is not paid within 28 days currently. As of September the fine will rise to the higher figure if it is not paid within 21 days. Penalty notices can be issued by either the school or the LA. The LA is required to have a code of conduct that says, amongst other things, when a penalty notice will be issued. That is intended to ensure consistency across the LA. Anyone issuing a penalty notice must comply with the code of conduct.

Just to confirm again, it is not up to the school to chase up the fine. The fine is payable to the LA which is required by law to prosecute non-payers or withdraw the penalty notice. The LA has to produce an annual statistical return showing what penalty notices have been issued by schools in their area, whether they were paid on time, how many parents were prosecuted and so on.

TryDrawing Thu 13-Jun-13 14:02:21

Thanks prh47bridgeIs that £60 per day, week, or total period of absence? It doesn't seem like much of a deterrent.

Fenton Thu 13-Jun-13 14:04:39

Total period of absence, - and quite, not much of a deterrent when you save hundreds on air fares going in school time.

Growlithe Thu 13-Jun-13 14:14:38

That's what I'm hearing Try. We have two DCs, one in Y4 and one in YR. We had never done it before, but agonised this year over a holiday price difference of £2000 for them missing 4 days, so decided to go for it - they actually ended up missing only 3 days because one ended up a snow day.

This year the head has started interviewing, however, and I have got to see just how many other families were doing it. When she put the changes to the wording of the legislation on the newsletter, everyone who has spoken about it would rather pay the fine than the extra in holiday price.

I don't think I'll be doing it again, because DD1 is going into Y5 in September with a view to doing the 11+ at the start of Y6, so it's an important year. Also I'm kind of thinking I don't want the DCs to see me actually getting fined over something and being blasé about it. But that just shows the lack of rebel in me, and also the fact that we could still afford a less extravagant holiday.

TryDrawing Thu 13-Jun-13 14:48:49

DD is too young for us to be affected by this at the moment but I just find it difficult to understand what significant negative effect holidays in termtime really have overall. The odd week here and there, that is, not huge amounts of absence, which would clearly make it difficult for a child to learn.

I'm not saying there isn't a problem, just that I don't know what it is. Would someone explain it to me please?

wickeddevil Thu 13-Jun-13 15:01:50

Thinking this through. Our youngest dd starts school in Sept, but as she has only just turned 4 is not actually legally required to attend school until sept 14.
Our elder daughter finishes Gcses next year and it would be nice to go away once exams are over. We are struggling to afford a holiday this year so I was thinking to go camping this year and go somewhere abroad next July before school breaks up.
So given that Dd does not legally have to be in school could we still be fined?

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 15:28:44

Interesting it's the LA that has to chase fines and that some LAs have overridden headteachers' discretion and claimed all holidays will be unauthorised absences.

I predict an increase in the number of bare faced liars (with suntans).

Personally, I would do everything I could to avoid term time holidays, but frankly resent the apparent attempts to remove the exercise of any discretion on the subject, as though all parents should be treated as feckless education avoiders, or an income stream to enable councils to profit from peoples' holidays, whether detrimental to their children's education or not...

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 15:30:07

ps only 41,000 penalty notices issued.... I wonder how many holidays were actually taken...

TheDoctrineOfAllan Thu 13-Jun-13 16:23:12

The problem, TryDrawing, is the disruption to the rest of the class as lessons are planned for the class as a whole.

CatherineofMumbles Thu 13-Jun-13 16:49:30

For a moment I thought this was a zombie because I'm sure this was the case when my Dc were in primary, a few years ago.
People did it, but just did not ask for it to be authorised because it wouldn't be, tho' don't remember anyone fined.
What was interesting was it seemed to be those parents who had fought hardest to get their DC into the Outstanding school that then dissed it once they were in grin
Thought about this today when there was coverage in the news about the French Air traffic controllers strike, and there was a person with school age DC (8 & 6?) complaining their flight to Alicante was cancelled shock Err, isn't it term-time everywhere in England at the moment, and I think they were form Cheshire...

CatherineofMumbles Thu 13-Jun-13 16:50:43

I predict an increase in the number of bare faced liars (with suntans).
RabbitStew grin

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 13-Jun-13 16:54:32

LAs can say what they like but it is written in law that it is the 'proprietor of the school' who have the discretionary power. In a maintained school that is the head/governors.

If anyone is interested the legislation is here

www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/1751/contents/made

and

www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/38/section/23

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 18:53:07

only 41,000 penalty notices issued.... I wonder how many holidays were actually taken

Based on the statistics it seems that a fairly high proportion of unauthorised absences resulted in a penalty notice being issued. With schools under pressure to improve attendance I would expect the number of penalty notices to continue to rise.

TryDrawing - The law is not specific. It could in theory be anything from one penalty notice for the total period of absence to one for each half day.

lalalonglegs Thu 13-Jun-13 19:22:31

Is this unauthorised holidays extended to academies as well? My children are at a school where the classes are practically empty after the middle of July, many of the parents are European and go back to their home countries for the summer, but it's a very high-achieving school and the teachers don't seem to mind terribly. Are they allowed greater say because the school has academy status and, if HTs want to improve attendance statistics, surely they are better off authorising holiday absenses rather than flagging them up as unauthorised?

infamouspoo Thu 13-Jun-13 19:46:19

This seems so variable. At ds's school the last HT bent over backwards asking me if we wanted to take ds on holiday during term time, it wouldnt be a problem, any time we liked. He said it so often I started to get a complex about ds's behaviour! grin The new HT can be an arse about hospice stays ffs (ds isnt expected to live very long hence we get 14 nights a year at a hospice. There's more chance of getting a chunk of nights during term time and you're only alowed 5 'nights' at weekends or school holidays in total) so I take them anyway rather than lose them. Guess they will be 'unauthorised' from september.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 20:03:54

prh47bridge - you didn't answer the question you quoted. Plenty of HTs actually USE COMMON SENSE and permit holidays in certain circumstances, meaning they are NOT unauthorised absences. And I wouldn't be remotely surprised if thousands of parents take their children off on holiday without being honest about it, particularly if the holiday only takes up a couple of days of term time and the rest is during the holiday. I know for a fact my children's school has never issued a penalty notice on anyone, nor has the LA on their behalf, and it has permitted plenty of parents to take their children on term time holidays, following a review of the children's attendance record (if attendance is already below, or would fall below a certain % then no holiday would be authorised), behaviour and academic achievement (ie whether they are likely GENUINELY to suffer academically if taken out of school). I can see that at secondary school, a stricter approach is necessary, but at primary school, I really don't think every child will fall irretrievably behind if they have a few days out of school and it's ridiculous to behave as though they will.

rabbitstew Thu 13-Jun-13 20:05:24

Unauthorised absences are not all for holidays, either... I don't think regularly truanting counts as a holiday.

prh47bridge Thu 13-Jun-13 22:36:43

No, but your posts seem to be suggesting that parents are unlikely to get a penalty notice if they take their children for an unauthorised holiday and can ignore any notice they do get.

For what it is worth the most recent statistics show that two thirds of absences due to holidays in term time are unapproved.

It is true that some LAs are reluctant to use penalty notices. On the other hand some are very enthusiastic. Kent, for example, issued nearly 3,500 penalty notices in 2011/12.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 08:02:54

I make no such suggestion, just make the point that the people who are actually harming their children's education are also highly likely to be the people who will ignore penalty notices. And those whose children's education is not being harmed by going on a family holiday are not likely to get a penalty notice in the first place. Your posts seem to suggest that penalty notices are being handed out willy nilly without any common sense utilised.

At our school, given that holidays often are authorised, there is a high degree of parental honesty, because parents expect their requests to be treated fairly. What a shame to mess all that up with a change of law that imo will have no beneficial effect whatsoever in my children's school, but might well just increase the proportion of liars. Treat everyone like a feckless moron and they usually live down to expectations.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 08:11:08

I can see why some LAs would be enthusiastic about handing out penalty notices - if you hand them out to as many people as possible, you get a nice income stream to help pay for the penalty notices that you have to chase up. It's got little to do with educational benefit v harm, though, if you treat it that way.

mignonette Fri 14-Jun-13 08:15:52

Any fine would have to be on a par with the savings made by taking a child on holiday during term time.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 14-Jun-13 09:24:54

If you believe that attendance is a key factor in educational achievement, why wouldn't issuing penalty notices be to do with educational benefit?

Growlithe Fri 14-Jun-13 09:42:20

infamouspoo surely your DS's case is an exceptional one? Your previous HT obviously had the right idea there. Although of course every child should go to school, there is more to life isn't there? smile

Theas18 Fri 14-Jun-13 11:44:20

Coming late to this. Newferry and other parents wit kids involed in outside activities that may occur in school hours.

there is an " educated off site" code that is appropriate for educational activity such as the dramafestival ( or in my kids cases, schools music service events)

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 13:46:43

I think parental attitude to education is a key factor in educational attainment and some parents who set a very high store by education nevertheless think that it is sometimes more educational, or of no long term educational harm, to take their children out of school during term time to do something else once or twice in their school lives. Maybe that's a sign schools aren't educational enough?!...

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 13:55:38

Basically, it's the idea that all parents who have taken their children on holiday during term time at any point and for any duration during the 13 years of their school lives have harmed their children's education that I object to. And if that isn't the case, then why would issuing penalty notices in every instance of holidays being taken during term time be of educational benefit to all those involved?

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 14-Jun-13 14:11:48

Sorry, my post wasn't clear.

The government believes attendance is a key factor, hence penalty notices.

The government accepts there may be exceptional reasons for non-attendance, hence authorised absences that avoid penalty notices.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 14:26:33

Which goes back to the question of schools and Local Authorities which have decided that no holiday should ever be authorised - ie schools which are not using their discretion in individual circumstances, but instead imposing blanket bans. If most people agree that sometimes a "holiday" can be of educational or other important benefit to a child, even during term time, then why the blanket ban? To enable people to be more inventive as the reasons why they are going away, so it can count as some random other authorised circumstance that happens also to be an enjoyable experience away from home (ie also a holiday...)?

Cavort Fri 14-Jun-13 14:44:27

We want to take DH's DD (my DSD) to Disneyland Florida in the October Half Term, but will need to take a few extra days due to the distance, which it would seem will now be unauthorised absence due to these changes coming into force on September 1st.

I have signed this e-petition to the government for those who disagree with the changes.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 15:50:30

Cavort - No. As has been said several times the situation has not really changed significantly. You apply to the school. The school may authorise the absence or they may not. If they do not you can either not go or go anyway and risk a fine. If you had gone last year it would have been exactly the same.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Fri 14-Jun-13 17:31:06

These are the changes to the regs for September 2013.

www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/behaviour/attendance/a00223868/regulations-amendments

AS prh47bridge says there is very little actual change to what happened before - leave is no longer called family holiday (we've not called it that in school for a long time, we use 'leave of absence in term-time') and there's the removal of the 10 days which lots of schools never gave anyway and which many parents thought was an entitlement when it was always only discretionary.

You can still have leave authorised in exceptional circumstances, for example I've authorised a week for a child whose sibling is going into hospital in another city and the parent has had to take the school age child with them as she has no other family here to care for him and deliver him to school. That is the sort of circumstances the regs are meant to cover.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 19:40:37

The fact is, the situation has changed and as a result all the schools near us, except my children's school, have responded by sending out letters saying that no holidays will ever be authorised in future, so no point asking. So much for no significant change.... hmm

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 19:42:14

It might help if legislators thought about human beings and their human reactions to word changes before they changed words in a way that was not meant to be "significant."

rubyrubyruby Fri 14-Jun-13 19:43:03

Our school does not authorise holiday absence.

Is there any point in filling in the form or shall I just drop then an email to let them know?

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 19:49:30

rubyrubyruby's query is precisely my objection to schools imposing blanket bans on particular types of absence, rather than leaving it open for parents to have a proper dialogue with the school to find out whether something can legitimately be permitted.

I think this is very disappointing and just encourages dishonesty, intolerance, and inflexibility - not a nice collection of attributes.

I asked for two different half-day absences for DD this year in order for her to attend interesting events with our faith community. Since she is at a faith school (secondary) this was looked at favourably enough to be granted. I also spoke about how I felt home and school should be a partnership in raising our young people, and the value of extra curricular activities in broadening children's experiences and education.

All things that, as well as sounding good, I do actually feel strongly about !

My children go to school because, on most days, that's where I feel is the best place for them to be. Very occasionally I feel they might benefit from taking part in another activity instead.
I hate the move towards totally inflexible obligation.

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-13 20:23:26

The problem as always is those who abuse the system - those who treat 10 days off as a right and those who take inappropriate absences. As I said on another thread, it is often the more affluent families who claim they cannot afford to take a holiday unless it is during term time. On that thread I also gave the example of a family that took their child out of school for a holiday when they were supposed to be taking their GCSE exams. That is a genuine example.

But to repeat yet again, this is not a significant change. It is, however, the case that successive governments have for many years been encouraging schools to tighten up on attendance due to the research demonstrating that children taking holidays in term time frequently does real damage to their education, despite what their parents think. That is one of the reasons the last government introduced fines for unauthorised absences.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Jun-13 21:59:09

The problem is, as always, treating everyone as though they abuse the system. If a minority abuse the system, why punish the majority?

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 14-Jun-13 22:05:52

I really don't think that's true.

The government has a different priority set to you. It has decided attendance is paramount and only exceptional circumstances exclude that. So in their eyes, a family archaeological dig in Egypt and a parent who can't be bothered to walk a kid to school for a week are both not meeting their paramount attendance target. Each is abusing the system as much as the other.

You may disagree, but that is their position as ultimate arbiter of educational provision.

Who says the government is the ultimate arbiter of educational provision though ?
I think parents have the main responsibility for educating their children. They have more influence on attainment reached than anyone else.
Some send to private schools, some home educate, and others choose state provision.
I think we need to be careful to keep the balance right here (and respect parents more) respecting and developing the partnership that exists between home and school.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Fri 14-Jun-13 23:30:43

They are because they provide it.

Just like you can be discharged from your NHS treatment if you don't turn up, or banned from driving if you speed consistently. All our public services have rules and penalties.

BoffinMum Sat 15-Jun-13 00:44:25

If you get threatened with one of these fines, just deregister your child with effect from the first day of the holiday and immediately re-register him or her for a place at the same school on the day after your return from holiday. There is a small risk of losing a school place but if the timing is right for you, there is sweet FA a Local Authority can do other that give you your school place back.

Elquota Sat 15-Jun-13 00:49:21

> leave could only be authorised in exceptional circumstances

That's fair enough IMHO. Why does it make any difference to anyone if they weren't going to take their child out of school for non-exceptional circumstances anyway? confused

Needtostopbuyingcrap Sat 15-Jun-13 00:56:05

When my school stops allowing traveller children going travelling, then i will stop taking my children out during term time.

One rule for all or non at all.

Needtostopbuyingcrap Sat 15-Jun-13 01:05:42

God that sounds awful, i didn't mean for it to look so mean shock

skyeskyeskye Sat 15-Jun-13 01:11:52

Our primary is an academy and sent out a letter to all parents saying that's what they propose to do from Sept. it's created uproar. This is quite a poor area, a rural area, lots of farming families who can't holiday at certain times of year. The school called it a consultation and invited opinions but basically they will do what they like.

A lot of families go on Sun holidays and you don't get choice of date when you can go. I paid £95 for a Sun holiday in June. The same holiday in worse accommodation in August is neatly £450, and that's just a cheap holiday. Parents wanting to go abroad pay even more.

There was talk of fining £100 per parent per child...

I think reducing the summer to four weeks, allowing holiday at set times would make sense, ie no time off during Sats etc. our school does get them watching DVDs and playing board games at the end of term which annoys some parents.

skyeskyeskye Sat 15-Jun-13 01:12:59

The school is over subscribed too so there is no way you could deregister as you would lose your place instantly.

exoticfruits Sat 15-Jun-13 07:50:48

I think there is a huge risk of losing the school place, BoffinMum. You need to be sure that you are in an undersubscribed school- the schools in my area that fine would have easily filled your place!

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 08:52:18

"The letter came from our LEA saying that it was no longer up to the HTs discretion. That was at least 4yrs ago."

They are misinforming you. That it is HT's discretion is written into the law. Now, HT's may be subject to pressures from governing bodies and LAs etc, but that does not change the law.

It would be very risky to deregistser for this, as if the school had a waiting list, you would lose the place.

But I agree at it's always worth pointing out that the state does not have a monopoly on educational provision. Parents can go private or, possibly more realistically, HE - the latter seems a good choice for those who think that the educational value during absences is equal or greater than ordinary termtime. And perhaps it would take an outflux of families from those schools to make the authorities realise that parents don't see the school as providing a good educatiforever for 190 days.

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 08:54:14

"When my school stops allowing traveller children going travelling, then i will stop taking my children out during term"

Perhaps you'll need to opt out of state education, then. Special provision for traveller children in written into various bits of relevant legislation, including the admissions code.

I contacted ds2's new school from sept as I heard this (& it's a grammar school so I thought possibly awkward). Ds2 is taking part in a professional production & there's a chance he'll have to miss up to 2 days off school. They said it was fine & they had no problem with that as they see that sort of thing as a positive educational experience. However, I think that can be recorded as being educated off site so it may just be that it doesn't affect their figures.

TwasBrillig Sat 15-Jun-13 09:09:12

The school my daughter is about to start at seems not to be changing. They are ofsted outstanding and are a lovely school.

The policy in the welcome pack was that you could take up to 2 weeks during the year if your child's attendance was 95per cent or above.

Dd is a young carer. She starts school next year but if we don't go to museums etc. In term-time we can't go at all.

Same with some holidays, due to ds' disability.

HT has made it quite clear in parents welcome meeting that she NEVER authorises absences. She made it clear if absences are what you want to find another school.

This school is oversubscribed and we want dd to go there.

What are the chances of this HT being reasonable?

Dd's attendance rate (based on past history) will be excellent outside of this.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sat 15-Jun-13 11:19:55

If a school has imposed a blanket ban than I would think that is challengeable under the law. The discretionary power of the head is written in law and it shouldn't be fettered by the LA.

I would authorise your days off SM but there are many schools that wouldn't. We don't authorise straightforward holidays when no exceptional circumstance is given, I have to be able to justify my decision.

One of the sticking points I think is that there is no clear indication of what is deemed an 'exceptional circumstance'. One HT's exceptional is another's 'run of the mill'. We quite often have complaints from parents that we've unauthorised a period of leave when the sibling has had theirs authorised and it creates confusion and ill-feeling.

Hmm. There's also that added pain of incompatible half-terms (and I think next year also Easter). Again, unless one child is out of school, we can't have a family holiday.

It really isn't straightforward.

When I was working, I attended a workshop on school attendances run by FFT and the data clearly shows a correlation between attendance and grades. Even a few days appears to make a difference.

However that information was taken at whole-population level, not individual and afiacs is skewed by the figures relating to the absent children from CBA families.

If you look at the data over school holidays, this shows that the disadvantage groups fall behind, the MC more or less stay where they are but with some getting ahead as a result of their holiday hothousing involved holidays.

inthesark Sat 15-Jun-13 16:54:09

Jimjams and theas18, unfortunately the regulations on Code B are also changing at the same time:

Schools should not mark a pupil as attending school, using the attendance code B for off-site education activity, unless the school is responsible for supervising the off-site education, and can ensure the safety and the welfare of the pupil off-site.

This is a complete pain in the arse for us, but I can't see any way round it, so if anyone knows what's supposed to happen instead, I'd love to hear.

inthesark Sat 15-Jun-13 16:55:07

Sorry, meant to add, link here

Oh interesting inthesark.

I wonder what will happen in the future. The school were very positive when I spoke to them, but we shall have to see in practice I guess. Luckily if he does need some time off for his current role it will be minimal as he has performed it elsewhere on the tour so shouldn't need to attend a rehearsal (which is the big one in terms of time off as it involves travel to the previous place on the tour).

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 17:35:08

Sounds to me like another balls up by legislators who operate on the basis of those things which are one step down from damned lies... and who then cover their blushes by pretending they have left any real discretion in the hands of HTs.

inthesark Sat 15-Jun-13 18:45:55

Yes, I'm not sure that directive has percolated down fully - another HT of our acquaintance wasn't aware.

We've had permission withdrawn for something that DD has done all this year, even though the guidelines say 'existing arrangements can continue', because it will affect their precious attendance records. Sigh.

Oh fark. It should be okay for his current commitment (because if absolutely necessary he could prob get away with missing no school), but certainly suggests there may be problems ahead.

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 19:04:19

It's not a legislators balls up (for once!) The word of the law is largely unchanged (just deleted the specific reference to holidays: everything else about HT's discretion remains there).

If individual LEAs are making 'directives' that are not actually compatible with the law (ie HTs must never XYZ) then that's a fault of local govt officials, not the government.

Oh unless there's a matinee - although the weekday ones are usually late. I don't suppose you can even just ignore & take out because you need permission for the licence. At least I know the school think it's a good thing to do so will be hopefully able to find a way around it if it does become issue.

Oh just saw your post Meditrina - thank you that's helpful to know. In which case there shouldn't be a problem.

BoffinMum Sat 15-Jun-13 19:23:03

Schools should not mark a pupil as attending school, using the attendance code B for off-site education activity, unless the school is responsible for supervising the off-site education, and can ensure the safety and the welfare of the pupil off-site.

I sent one of mine to a full time German language course in German boarding school for 3 weeks in term time once, with the full blessing of the HT. A course that didn't run for his age group in UK school holidays, run by the Goethe Institute, the German equivalent of the British Council. Presumably this would be truanting and I would have been fined under the new regulations.

WHICH IS WHY INFLEXIBLE REGULATIONS ARE STOOPID.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 19:25:55

meditrina - it is not an insignificant change.

For one thing, reference to "special circumstances" is now changed to "exceptional circumstances." It used to be the case that up to 10 days holiday were allowed in special circumstances and more than that in exceptional circumstances. So now, 1 day should be treated with the same disdain as 2 weeks... and how many people know of a school that has permitted anyone to have more than 10 days' holiday during term time in a year???...

For another, prior to changing the law, the DfE made it very clear it disapproved of holidays in term time and wanted to change the law to make its disapproval very clear. So it would be a very brave HT who would take seriously the faux-discretion they are apparently given in any meaningful way.

BoffinMum Sat 15-Jun-13 19:25:58

exotic, in our area the schools are quite far apart so the LA would end up having to taxi the child losing the place to a school more than 2 miles away, so they wouldn't pull that one. wink

exoticfruits Sat 15-Jun-13 19:31:30

It wouldn't work in our area.
I'm not saying that I agree with it- just that it will come.

Holliewantstobehot Sat 15-Jun-13 19:42:12

So only the well off can take their kids away now. We have just had a week off to go away and it cost me under £300 which has taken me a whole year to pay off. We always do educational stuff on holiday as well as the fun stuff and I think we all benefit. I'd like to know if Gove would happily go through the rest of his kids childhood without ever giving them another holiday again.

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 19:53:52

It is a small change because now as then a HT can authorise up to 10 days, and it remains entirely at the HT's discretion.

There is no difference between 'special' and 'exceptional' in this context.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Sat 15-Jun-13 20:04:42

Boffin, if there is a waiting list for the school I don't think they have a choice - especially as I assume your plan only works if you don't tell them you'll be re-registering a week later.

BoffinMum Sat 15-Jun-13 20:29:13

Technically speaking, and I am not recommending this as a course of action but more a sticking up of fingers if you feel like taking a risk or avoiding a fine, you could submit the mid year application form a day or two after the letter removing your child. In terms of the bureaucracy you would have won. In terms of risk, you might lose your place if there's waiting lists locally (which believe it or not, there aren't everywhere).

BoffinMum Sat 15-Jun-13 20:30:45

And if everyone did this regularly, the rules would change pretty damn sharpish. wink

rubyrubyruby Sat 15-Jun-13 20:43:31

Our term time abscence is nothing to do with the cost. We just need to co-ordinate holidays with other work colleagues so we are all back for GCSE results.
The holiday is costing the same amount

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:04:09

meditrina - what makes you think there is no difference between "special" and "exceptional" or that 10 days has any relevance any more???!!!!!! The words were specifically changed for a reason. A headteacher can now only use their discretion to allow holidays in "exceptional" circumstances, not in any old circumstance. And the word "exceptional" has a precedent - holidays of over 10 days were only allowed in "exceptional" circumstances in the past, so this is clearly intended to mean something far more restrictive than "special" circumstances.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:05:58

And the removal of the reference to 10 days was also done deliberately - there is no acceptable time frame for holidays anymore. So for a HT to have some fantasy 10-day time limit in their head is just fantasy - 1 day is too much unless it's an exceptional day...

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:07:28

Mind you, a HT could now authorise several months in exceptional circumstances. grin But of course, "exceptional" means the same thing as "special...."

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:10:28

Unless you can point me to some official advice about the change that is coming into effect in September that says something different?

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:16:00

(If "special" and "exceptional" are supposed to mean the same thing and by HT discretion the law means HT right to ignore the words "special" v "exceptional" and permit any holiday he or she fancies, then I'll eat my hat...).

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 21:24:27

The 10 days is relevant because it's written into the law (then and now).

As is HT's (and no-one else's) discretion on what can be (exceptionally) authorised. Which is no change.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:43:36

No, that's wrong. The legislation has specifically been amended to remove reference to 10 days - see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/756/regulation/2/made

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 21:45:43

And sorry, but in law the change of a word from "special" to "exceptional" is never meaningless - HTs are expected to change the exercise of their discretion as a result.

If it becomes impossible to obtain an authorised absence, (as my daughter has been able to for two afternoons this school year, to enable attendance at interesting and valuable young people's residential activities mainly in holiday) - I think a lot of goodwill will be lost. People may just opt for unauthorised absences, and defend their case if necessary a little further down the line/ risk a fine, or whatever the consequences will be.
I will be sorry if providing the best upbringing and education for my child means incurring unauthorised absences - mainly due to the breakdown in communication and the lack of acknowledgement of a home/school partnership that it would represent. But it's unlikely I'd just send her to school instead as I already only ask in special/exceptional circumstances.
I feel these new measures are very undermining both of the home/school partnership, and of my role as my DC's mother and guardian/ educator.

I think they may also widen the gap between the privileges of privately educated and state educated children. I imagine private school HT's can use far more discretion in authorising absences to enable participation in interesting extra curricular activities ? And feel private schools may be better anyway at recognising the benefits of a broad and individually tailored education ?

meditrina Sat 15-Jun-13 22:49:52

It's "exceeding 10 days" and 'for purpose of a holiday" that are changing.

Up to 10 days is still OK at head's discretion of what counts as exceptional/special.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 23:02:20

No, they are omitting any reference whatsoever to holidays or to 10 days worth of holiday (or any other type of absence) being OK. Up to any time whatsoever is now OK for any type of leave of absence, but only in "exceptional circumstances." The only reference to 10 days now relates to how much time beyond the leave actually granted must pass before the child concerned can be deleted from the admissions register for failing to attend.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 23:08:58

ie up to 10 days is NOT "still OK." They haven't specifically omitted s.7(3) and s.7(4) of the 2006 Regulations in the 2013 Amendment for nothing.

rabbitstew Sat 15-Jun-13 23:21:06

Unless you mean to imply that it's OK to take your child off on a 10 day holiday because the school can't delete your child from their admissions register if you do, even though it's totally unauthorised rather than with their permission and will result in you being fined. hmm

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 10:29:26

On that basis, you might be able to get away with more than 10 days holiday, provided you tell the school absolutely nothing about why your child is not in school (ie do not seek any form of authorisation) - it looks like you could have up to 20 days off, then, before they can delete your child from the admissions register! Whoopee!...

I couldn't just take my son out because he needs permission from the head teacher for his performance licence. If these measures are as draconian as some are suggesting then performing in West End shows & tours & presumably films/TV will only be possible for those attending private schools. If that's the case it would appear politicians have a very narrow view of what can be defined as education. Lets hope common sense prevails & schools don't end up penalised for students taking part in valuable extra curricular activities that occasionally require a few hours off school. I know ds1's school are currently very keen for him to do this sort of activity but I can see that changing if they end up penalised.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 16-Jun-13 13:16:29

I think dc missing the odd afternoon to do extra curricular activities is considered as educated off site, not unauthorised absence. It was up until last year with my dd. She had a lot of time off school due to performances.
The law states that it is the responsibility of the parent to educate their children be that at school or otherwise. So if you outsource the education of your dc to a school, you are expected to comply with their procedures and policies.

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 13:36:29

What the law states changes on 1 September.

I would have thought most HTs would be able to say that time out for a West End performance was an "exceptional circumstance," though....?...

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 13:40:28

I couldn't help noticing that the 2006 regulations on authorised absences seem only to apply to maintained schools and non-maintained special schools (see s7(5) which I don't think has been amended by any subsequent regulations?)? Does this mean they don't apply to free schools and academy schools????

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 13:45:37

Is prh47bridge really correct that LAs have to collect fines handed out by free schools and academy schools??? Can a free school fine parents for disobeying a regulation that doesn't apply to free schools and academy schools???? confused

BoffinMum Sun 16-Jun-13 17:36:29

What happens if the parents' work takes them overseas temporarily, say for a couple of weeks or so at a time, and they haven't got anyone they can leave their school aged children with for that long, so the kids have to come too?

I ask because my work contract actually says they can send me overseas for up to a month at a time. Now this is pretty rare that this is done but now and then I do actually have to decamp en famille with any kids I can't palm off, in order to do my job. What happens then?

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:40:48

You hope your children go to a school with a headteacher who exercises their discretion reasonably, rather than deleting your children from the admissions register, asking the LA to slap a huge fine on you and getting social services involved to prevent you taking the children out of the country?...

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:43:35

Maybe free schools and academy schools can invent their own reasons for what qualifies as an authorised absence and what will be unauthorised????? Then use the LA to collect the fines they hand out?

So many different rules for so many different schools...

BoffinMum Sun 16-Jun-13 17:51:11

I don't think the law is strong enough to stand up in such instances.

1. There is no law saying I can't take my children overseas in term time, so social services have no grounds for involvement. They could perhaps make some sort of argument about whether children were receiving education, but if they were temporarily in school elsewhere, or being tutored, then it would be hard for this to stick, especially if we are talking about absences of up to a month.
2. If I were to stand up in court and argue the toss, can you imagine a judge deciding I should give up my livelihood on such grounds? Doubt it.
3. In terms of being deleted from the admissions register, would the local authority really be happy to keep attempting to re-admit my children to their school or be faces with the costs of taxi-ing them elsewhere, on a repeated basis? Again, doubt it.
4. Ultimately traveller children's parents aren't fined anyway, nor are those who work in the show ground industry and so on. So there are precedents for being absent on account of parental work responsibilities.

I can't imagine any head teacher would ever bother harrassing a parent in such an instance, do you?

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:51:12

Since the government has expressed its desire for all schools to become academies (or be free schools), it is VERY hard to believe that they aren't deliberately creating really rigid, petty rules for maintained schools so as to provide that little extra shove in the required direction.

BoffinMum Sun 16-Jun-13 17:53:02

Having typed all that out, I think there needs to be an explicit blanket exemption from fines for children absent on account of their parents' work responsibilities if this involves travel, etc.

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:53:54

Traveller children have a special carve out for them in the legislation. As for what would actually be done, I would certainly hope the reality would not be so petty and wasteful of taxpayers' money, but apparently some LAs are handing out penalty notices like sweets, if prh47bridge is to be believed...

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 17:55:53

Or so I'm told, re traveller children... someone on this thread mentioned it.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 16-Jun-13 18:57:30

You make an interesting point about academies rabbitstew.

I believe they are still considered maintained schools as they receive the same funding but from central rather than local government so their statutory responsibility under the legislation is the same. They have to notify their local authority if a pupil is absent continuously without authorisation for ten school days as it remains the LA's responsibility to ensure children are being educated either in school or otherwise. Often they will buy in the LA's Education Welfare Service and hence the LA collect fines on their behalf.

Free schools are a different kettle of fish altogether confused

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 19:44:54

So what is the official definition of a "maintained" school, then, because even the Department for Education seems to art and fart about with regard to the meaning of "maintained" school - often using it as a term to differentiate a LA controlled school from an academy or free school? Is there legislation on this somewhere??

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 16-Jun-13 20:00:39

A maintained school is one maintained by public funds.

The Dfe says "Academies are publicly-funded independent schools that provide a first-class education" (hmm that they're so definite about the second part of that!?)

and that "Academies are required to follow the law and guidance on admissions, special educational needs and exclusions as if they were maintained schools."

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 20:04:37

Doesn't the wording "...as if they were maintained schools" imply that they aren't maintained schools, but are treated as such in particular circumstances?

Yep potato prints my understanding was that it was classed as educated off site, but on this thread they are saying heads are no longer allowed to class it in that way (which may become problematic for the school?)

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Sun 16-Jun-13 20:14:45

Yes it would seem so - maintained when it comes to the legal stuff (attendance, admissions, SEN) and not when it comes to curriculum, staffing etc.

prh47bridge Sun 16-Jun-13 20:43:06

rabbitstew - The Education (Penalty Notice) Regulations are clear that academies and free schools can issue penalty notices. The Education Act is clear that they can issue penalty notices for unauthorised absence. The regulation on the circumstances in which an absence can be authorised may not apply to them but that does not prevent academies from issuing penalty notices. Indeed, many have done so. And most appear to act as if the regulation regarding leave of absence applies to them. The Penalty Notice regulations are clear that any penalty is payable to the LA. The academy must also comply with the LA's Code of Conduct regarding penalty notices.

Is there any appeal system for the penalties?

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 20:52:58

All sounds like a silly mess to me.

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 21:03:36

Is it clear whether academies count as "maintained schools" for the purposes of defining an "authorised" versus "unauthorised" absence? Or are such schools opening themselves up for complaints that the exercise of their discretion in making decisions on this is too opaque and arbitrary? grin

rabbitstew Sun 16-Jun-13 21:20:04

I think maybe the latter... they are, after all, "independent" schools.

prh47bridge Sun 16-Jun-13 22:46:37

An academy is not a maintained school.

Any appeal is to the LA. They are the only people with the authority to withdraw a penalty notice.

I don't see a mess at all. Regardless of whether your child goes to an academy or another type of school the situation is the same. If you want your child to have a day off you must apply to the school. It is at the head's discretion whether or not to grant the absence. If they do not you have the option of taking your child out of school anyway but you may be fined. If you are fined you can appeal to the LA.

I don't see any reason why academies should face more complaints than any other type of school regarding whether or not the exercise of their discretion is opaque and arbitrary. Community schools are perfectly capable of being opaque and arbitrary.

Head teachers are not employed by the government. I therefore don't buy the idea that headteachers have to do what the government wants. Discretion is absolutely in the hands of headteachers. It is not a pretence. Headteachers have the absolute authority to decide whether or not to grant leave of absence. If they decide to grant it there is no mechanism whereby anyone can challenge that decision, let alone force them to change it.

saintlyjimjams - The provisions regarding children taking having leave of absence to take part in a performance are not changing.

BoffinMum - The special provision for children of travellers covers any child where the parent's business requires them to travel from place to place. Such children can be registered at more than one school. An unauthorised absence can only occur if the child is absent from all the schools at which they are registered.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 08:01:52

Like when the child is not in the country... grin. B*ll*cks that headteachers of state schools don't have to do what the government wants.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 08:05:20

Why bother to legislate at all if nobody has to do what you want?...

5madthings Mon 17-Jun-13 08:17:18

Is there a way to challenge/appeal if a ht says no to a request.

We have issues that dp cannot get leave in school holidays. Prrvious hts have bern fine but at the high school they have a new ht and not sure what his stance is. Dps employer provides a letter for school confirming restricted leave etc. We are asking for five days off not in exam yrs etc. Am wondeting if we were refused and got fined we could appeal? But there is no way of appealing/challenging hts? Am i reading that righy?

Also, what does it actually MEAN to say that the school must supervise the child once off-site in order to get an educated off-site rating?

I am doing an MSc next year and my 'supervision' will be predominately electronic. Would this work?

Thanks prh47bridge - hopefully no problems ahead then.

EliotNess Mon 17-Jun-13 08:59:20

I presume they were imprisoned for non payment of court fines under wilful refusal rather than not ensuring kids attendance.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:18:00

It goes back to the difference between what is technically "allowed" and how human beings react. The reaction to the change in wording of the Regulations where I live is for all schools but one to say that no holidays in term time will ever be authorised in future. That seems like a very poor exercise of discretion to me and one you would only expect from schools scared to use their discretion because they don't believe they really have any that won't be heavily criticised by the powers that be if they don't toe the party line. Blanket bans are always a silly reaction, because there is always an exceptional circumstance that crops up, so the reaction of the majority of schools around here is to cut off lines of communication, rather than use the discretion it is claimed they have.

So, why did the government change the wording? Quite obviously because it wanted to interfere in the way headteachers use their discretion - otherwise no change was required, was it?....

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:36:07

So, who do people appeal to if it is the LA is flouting the law and claiming that schools in its jurisdiction have no discretion with regard to allowing holidays?...

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:49:47

And how can anyone claim it isn't a mess when the DfE says on the one hand that it wants schools to have more freedom and on the other, tells schools they are doing everything wrong at the moment, teachers, academics and anyone else who disagrees with the DfE are a bunch of loony socialists, and maintained schools should follow a ludicrously prescriptive curriculum which quite clearly doesn't give much freedom? And how are we supposed to trust all these lunatics in education if we give them more freedom, anyway, now that we've been told what a useless bunch of idiots they all are?????

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:51:48

Obviously, the minute you become an academy school, you cease to be populated by idiots. grin

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:56:56

And if you employ ex-soldiers without degrees, you'll have all your problems sorted. I just hope they'll be doing good mental health screening, looking for PTSD, first...

TwasBrillig Mon 17-Jun-13 11:45:39

I think if my daughter's school was taken over by ex soldiers without degrees it would be the point I start to home school.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 12:11:44

But TwasBrillig - don't you understand that one of the main problems with state schools is the lack of discipline and that a fantastic solution would be to get a bit of army discipline in schools from soldiers made redundant from their chosen careers by government cuts?

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 14:53:14

So, who do people appeal to if it is the LA is flouting the law and claiming that schools in its jurisdiction have no discretion with regard to allowing holidays

That is not flouting the law. It is just making a false claim. The claim by the LA is not binding on schools. Schools are entitled to exercise the discretion given to them by law. They can use it to refuse all holidays if they wish. At the other extreme they can use it to allow all holidays. The LA cannot force the school to comply with its wishes.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 17-Jun-13 14:59:51

Rabbit stew, what is your solution?

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:31:01

My solution: don't change the law in the first place? It's all up to the HT's discretion, after all.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:33:44

A change in the law that isn't really a change in the law because, apparently, it hasn't changed the law at all, is just IDIOTIC. So the current government are clearly IDIOTS intent on causing unnecessary confusion....

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:35:08

... and they haven't changed the law, because the law is it's up to the HT's discretion and nobody can stop a HT from saying that all holidays are exceptional circumstances. hmm

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:37:41

Or am I misinterpreting what prh47bridge has said here, somewhere?...grin Maybe, heaven forbid, HTs do not have quite the degree of discretion claimed, because political pressure is more powerful than the law? shock

Elibean Mon 17-Jun-13 17:42:46

great rant by rabbit smile

I cheered (inwardly, dd is having a piano lesson and I'm trying to keep quiet) all the way through.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:52:58

And who would have guessed that the law is so weak that a HT can exercise their discretion in a way that appears to flout the spirit of the Regulations under which they are exercising their discretion without anyone being able to call them up on it? Because I would have thought exercising your discretion to allow all term time holiday requests would be doing just that. As would refusing all term time holiday requests before they've even been made...

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:53:42

Why, thank you, Elibean... smile

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 18:08:44

Who do you suggest is going to sue the head teacher and on what grounds? This is not criminal law so you could only sue if you have suffered a loss of some kind that the law is able to redress. The government therefore cannot sue a school for breaching the regulations as they do not have any loss that can be compensated. A parent could try but would have to show that the school's decision is unreasonable and the bar for that is very high, so it is very unlikely the parent would win.

The regulations do not define what is meant by "exceptional circumstances". They simply say that the school should not grant leave of absence other than in exceptional circumstances. It is therefore up to the school to decide what that means. The school can set the bar for that as low or as high as they want. Yes, the regulations are worded in such a way as to imply that the bar should be fairly high but there is no way for the government to enforce that in law. Having said that, most schools already set the bar fairly high and have been moving it higher steadily as they are aware of the damage absences can cause to the pupil's education and they are under pressure from Ofsted to reduce absenteeism.

By the way, I'm surprised you don't want to change the law since you seem to thoroughly object to the current law as well as the change the government is making.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 18:14:08

The current law allows up to 10 days in special circumstances and that's always worked fine where I am. The law change has got lots of HTs' knickers in a twist.

I love the way you hide "pressure from Ofsted" in the middle of what you say. As I said, political pressure... not the same thing as HTs' free will or true beliefs on any subject.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 18:16:10

So - why the change in the law, then, prh47bridge? What's your take on why the law was changed when the law is so toothless? Isn't that a waste of taxpayers' money, to spend time changing something that doesn't really change anything?

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 17-Jun-13 18:17:08

<applauds prh>

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 21:06:31

Would love prh47bridge's real views. Does he/she think that it is acceptable for HTs to exercise their discretion in a way that clearly flouts the legislator's intention, because nobody can realistically stop them unless the attendance figures at their school look bad enough to trigger pressure from Ofsted, or they overstep the mark badly with a parent? I shall remember to mention that to our HT if she tries to follow the other local schools' example and ban holidays altogether, or come up with a list of what might count as "exceptional" circumstances - after all, they don't really have to be "exceptional," as nobody can argue with the use of her discretion, however apparently arbitrary. wink

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 21:17:55

I did not hide "pressure from Ofsted". I added it in the natural place. Ofsted do not generally take a detailed look at the operation of these regulations in a school being inspected. If the school's absenteeism is in the normal range Ofsted are unlikely to take any interest whatsoever in how the school decides whether or not to grant leave of absence. However if a school has a high level of absenteeism they will take an interest.

There appear to be three reasons for changing the regulations:

- Stopping schools from granting leave of absence retrospectively

- Removing the reference to ten days holiday as many parents seemed to think (incorrectly) this was a right

- Clarifying that the school can remove a pupil from the register if they fail to meet the entry requirements for sixth form, thereby bringing the regulations in line with what actually happens

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 23:33:21

So impossible to provoke you into giving a subjective opinion grin. Anyone would think that would be professionally unwise of you. Have you ever mentioned what your day job is?

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 23:47:27

Anyway, message received loud and clear: some HTs are unnecessarily paranoid about exercising a discretion that really is theirs to use exactly as they see fit until they balls their attendance figures up; and parents are entirely at the mercy of the HT's discretion, if they care one way or the other what the HT thinks or what they might be fined.

AllyStarxox10 Wed 06-Nov-13 18:08:42

Highest of all I'm a kid and I know you think that I am posting because I'm saying school sucks but no I'm a kid that needs to go to the hospital for treatment because I have an illness and I really agree because on my mum's phone my mum mesagess

)$:==(::=$ 6h is absent for her treatment
Dear Mrs sad_(+#) that will cost 11.50

It's OUTRAGEOUS!!

Ps it goes along(&+$)$ for names you know the whole no showing personal info online!

prh47bridge Wed 06-Nov-13 20:26:54

Assuming this is a state school they cannot charge anything if you are absent for treatment. And if they did try to impose a fine it would have to be £60. They can't make up a random amount and impose that.

cory Fri 08-Nov-13 08:28:19

The recent insistence in some schools on doctors' notes for every absence of a chronically ill, frequently ill or disabled child is a very heavy indirect fine. I wonder if HT's really realise how expensive these letters come and what a burden they can be for families who are already financially burdened by illness.

rabbitstew Fri 08-Nov-13 09:22:55

The whole attendance figures thing is an utter farce. All schools are expected to achieve a minimum attendance percentage. It matters not one jot whether just one or two families are lowering the attendance figures, or whether there is a widespread problem with attendance at the school, it just matters to headteachers who are being judged on those blunt, basic figures that the school does not allow attendance figures to drop below the magic number. If figures do drop below that magic number, then the school has a behaviour problem, apparently, because the statistics say so, and reasonable families with good reasons for absences need to be bullied to solve it, given that the real problem families are not going to change their behaviour, whereas reasonable families can be bullied and harangued; and that's a good thing, because the school can then tick the "we're doing something about this" box. Obviously, they are not, actually, solving the problem with the problem families at all, they are just adding to the problems of people who don't deserve to be dumped on, but that's irrelevant to the box ticking mentality caused by blunt and basic statistical tools.

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