Unauthorised absence and removal of child from school roll

(109 Posts)
wickedfairy Sat 12-Oct-13 16:34:33

We have a family event (Wedding) on the other side of the world and have been refused authorisation to remove the children from school. We have asked for 16 days, which I know is a lot but we have to fly our family so far away, that we cannot make it a short trip. Basically, the children would be off school for one month, with half term in the middle (hence the 16 days).

It costs so much to go there, that we thought it could be a trip of a lifetime and we would be making sure the children would benefit from the trip – experiencing local culture and visiting historical places during the trip. I have proposed that the record the trip and what they do in a diary to share once back at school and also that we would happily take schoolwork away so that the children would not fall behind. One child is in Yr2, the other is younger – wedding is near the beginning of the year, not SATS time.

The standard letter we were sent says that we will most likely be fined, which we would accept. The very worrying thing is that it also says that the children could have their names removed from the school roll and lose their places. They both have excellent attendance (96%). Can they really do this? I am so worried and the flights are already booked….. I will request a meeting with the head teacher, but I am not sure she will accept/it will make no difference.

Any advice please? I am totally stressing that we will get back and the children will have lost their school places. They have never missed school before....

TheAngryCheeseCracker Sat 12-Oct-13 16:56:53

Is it worth the stress?

Schools are very strict now because they have to be (gvt rules).

We were not even allowed a measly one day off to to a grandparent's funeral sad

tiggytape Sat 12-Oct-13 17:09:14

Technically yes you could lose your place.
Anything over 10 days unauthorised absence can lead to removal from the school's roll.
Whether you risk this or not depends on what assurances, if any, you can get from the Head and how popular your school is. If it has loads of empty spaces in Year 2 then you may be less worried than if it has a waiting list full of people ready to take your place.

And without wishing to sound harsh, don't think the offer of taking school work will placate the school. Effectively it just means you are not only taking a month off but expecting the staff to go to extra effort to cover the work missed in that time. Many schools refuse to help with work missed unless the child has been away for illness or similar. It is a very long time for them to be away and I think most schools would have a problem with this especially given the new rules that came into force in September about term time holidays.

shebird Sat 12-Oct-13 17:10:40

I understand the fine and the fact that they are unwilling to authorise such a long absence but threatening loss of school place is a bit much.

As for refusing a day to attend a grandparents funeral now that makes me really cross.

drivinmecrazy Sat 12-Oct-13 17:22:43

Absolutely hate these new rules, taking away any discretion from the Head Teachers.

DD1 (now yr8)was taken out of yr 3 for half a term so I could take her to spend the final few weeks with her Grandpa before he passed away in Spain. The school did not have any hesitation giving her this time off.

All these years later I never consider her lack of schooling for that period, but both her and I are eternally grateful the school was able to make that decision.

I absolutely dread to think of that situation occurring now. if she had not been able to have that time off we would have all missed out on far more than an education.

Fortunately for us, DD1 is very academically able, but that still would not have affected our desire to spend that particular period of time in the way that we did.

It's truly heartbreaking that so many families are missing out on significant life events due to some arbitrary, set in stone decree from the powers that be.

completely ridiculous, and goes against any responsible parents ability to decide what is best for their own children.

GGRRRRRR!!!!!!

Tiredemma Sat 12-Oct-13 17:24:51

If you normally have good attendance (above 95%) then its highly unlikely that your children will be taken off the school roll.

lalalonglegs Sat 12-Oct-13 17:25:10

I think you're going to have to meet them halfway and shorten the trip (preferably so that, including half term, it is less than 10 days and they cannot remove your children from the school roll). I do think that these blanket refusals to consider time off are unhelpful and can be counter-productive but I would agree that a month is a long time.

AngryCheese - I would have told them to swivel if they'd refused a day off for a close relative's funeral. How bloody dare they angry.

lljkk Sat 12-Oct-13 17:32:03

I wonder if people who suggest shortening the trip have ever tried to fly half way around the world AND BACK in an 8 day window, and then managed to go straight to local time upon return (again, back onto home hours with no ill effects all within the 8 day window). With children in tow. Coz you're friggin' Martians if you can do that.

I'd just go, OP. I'm planning something very similar next yr (14 days for my lot). The amount of paperwork they have to do to process school places off and back on the roll is probably too much for LEA to get around to in less than 4 weeks, by which time you'll be back.

tiggytape Sat 12-Oct-13 17:32:57

Teachers do still have some discretion. For example a wedding could be authorised as an exceptional reason. So could a funeral if the Head chose to do this.
However a month off school would have been pushing it even before the rules changed and losing a school place after 10 days unauthorised absence was something the old rules also included.

The new rules stop people taking time off for non exceptional reasons i.e price of flights, weather, visiting family abroad just for a visit. Parents often say they are responsible and have educational trips are and naturally gifted children but the fact remains a significant number of children were taken out by parents every year based purely on cost even if their normal attendance was shocking and their child was behind and there were Year 10 assessments they were supposed to do. Not all parents take a responsible approach and in fact lots of them didn't.

moldingsunbeams Sat 12-Oct-13 17:39:57

We took a day out for a funeral, I told them we were going rather than asked them, it was a close grandparent and I refuse to allow them to prevent dd from being there.

I actually think you would be in your rights to complain if they prevented you going to a funeral of a close relative tbh.

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 12-Oct-13 17:41:06

That is a lot of holiday and a lot of learning missed. The issue about "SATs time" is not actually valid at year 2. It is not like Y6 when they are in specific month or like Year 2 was (many years ago) and happened all in the month of May.

The tests have to administered, but at any time the school decides as they are used as part of the teacher assessments. If the school has planned to do them when you are away your child will miss them and the school can't organise all its planning around you having a month off and do them another time. I usually do my maths tests in February, Reading in March and Writing in April / May.

As a teacher, asking for / offering t do school work would not cut it with me. Why should I provide work for you when you've decided to take time off school? Maybe it is different if the child is ill or needs time off for other emergency reasons, but holiday, no. I get lots of people asking for the worksheets. Sorry, I rarely use them and if I do they are a follow up from my teaching not in place of it. So then they ask for my plans. Again, not possible. I only plan a day or two in advance at most, as it is in response to the learning needs identified in the classroom, not a set syllabus that I plough through. Today I'm planning Monday and Tuesday, the rest will follow from what I discover children need during those lessons.

Also you have to be ready for friendship dynamics to drastically change when you get back. Friends may have moved on and have replaced your DC with other best friends or friendship groups and your DC may find it really hard to find their place, feeling left out or completely ousted from friendship groups.

As a parent it is a tough call for you. I'd be less worried about the younger child (are they statutory school age yet? If not that may help your case with the HT). But the only way you'll know your places are secure is to have a meeting with the HT and if successful get it in writing.

NewNameforNewTerm Sat 12-Oct-13 17:42:40

Trouble is, this is not just a day or two for a funeral. It is 1/12th of a school year (assuming each half term is on average 6 weeks long)

scaevola Sat 12-Oct-13 17:43:46

HT still have discretion, and under the new rules could, if persuaded the absence is exceptional, authorise a period over 10 days (the limit under the old rules). The loss of the place for lengthy unauthorised absence, is unchanged.

Your choices are a) to have another go at persuading HT to authorise, b) to go unauthorised (and pay fine, if raised) but alter dates to remove risk of loss of place or c) go on original plan, cross you fingers and hope the worst consequences do not come about.

NoComet Sat 12-Oct-13 17:44:08

These new rules are totally unreasonable and I hope sooner or later someone will find a way of taking the government to court for them.

Preventing people with family abroad from attending familly events or visiting sick or elderly relatives must be pretty close to contravening the human rights act.

It's utterly unfair that families face fines for making the sorts of visits that were sanctioned no bother in the past.

DF's DH is Australian and they had no bother going to see his family partly in term, partly into the summer holidays.

admission Sat 12-Oct-13 17:51:55

The rules around this are in regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006.
My reading of them is that if the pupil has been given a leave of absence then they can be removed from the register if they have not returned 10 school days after the period of leave of absence. If there has been no leave of absence granted (which is where you are), then it is 20 school days after which the pupil can be removed from the register with agreement of the LA. If you are talking about 16 school days then I would suggest you try and get some clarity in writing from the head teacher, but expecting any sympathy or any leave of absence is not going to happen.

nextphase Sat 12-Oct-13 17:56:19

Yep, we've done (nearly) half way round the world with 2 kids for 2 weeks - it is very difficult to get longer off work in one block (before school). Its not impossible.

OP: I know why you want to go for that long, but can you compromise, and come back for the second half of term? So miss 2 weeks (10 days) of school, and use the half term also. That prevents the possible loss of school place, but doesn't take too much off your holiday.

Current attendance of 96% is about 7 days off. Take a further 16 sessions off, and the max attendance for the year is 88%. Where is the action point for attendance?

lalalonglegs Sat 12-Oct-13 17:57:28

lljkk - no one's suggesting an 8-day window to fly across the world and back. What I suggested was 3 weeks (to include half term) with only 10 days or less of term-time missing. However, it doesn't matter how long they stay, jet lag is almost certain to be an issue on the return leg of the journey as their body clocks adjust.

siblingrevelry Sat 12-Oct-13 18:09:32

It still amazes me when people get indignant about school enforcing rules-when you have a child, you have to accept that 4/5 years later you will be obliged to confirm to your child not being available at set times. It's a shame when it's unavoidable and through no fault of the parent, but often it's as a result of choices they've made (and as harsh as it sounds, if I were in education i wouldn't think a family wedding as a good enough reason, regardless of whose wedding it is. Probably why I'm not in education though, I'm obviously too harsh!)

We've just had half the parenting population up in arms that their kids missed one day from teacher's strike action. It seems for some education is viewed as flexible: it's our choice to take it or leave it, and opt in or out when we think it might be valuable I.e exams.

keepsmiling12345 Sat 12-Oct-13 18:29:31

At my DD's oversubscribed state school, the catchment area shrank to 300metres this year. Many children are therefore on the waiting list, desperate for a place to come up. The same is true in year 1 and year 2. To be honest, if I were the parent of a child in that position, I would absolutely support your DC being removed from the school roll. If you're not that bothered about attending the school for a month, then why shouldn't the place go to someone else who will do their utmost to turn up every day and benefit from the education on offer at that school?

Of course, education is not just about what is learnt at school but when you take up a place at school you are agreeing to the term dates etc. if you want flexibility, then remove your DC from the school roll and home educate. Why is it reasonable for you to ask for place at school but the flexibility of home educating?

And asking for a month off is not comparable with the example of the day off for a funeral being refused.

And agree with others, before you suggest that you'd be happy to take school work with you, think about what this really means for the teacher and what you are asking them to do. Otherwise, you risk coming across as exceptionally entitled and unreasonable.

lljkk Sat 12-Oct-13 18:53:46

I think OP is talking about a month of travel but only 3 weeks off school.

"They" changed the rules, they moved the goal posts about hols since I had DC and since OP had her kids. 4 yrs ago we went & got 3 weeks approval without problem. Ditto 4 yrs before that.

NOW it will be a problem. sad

So don't tell me I should have had a better crystal ball before DC were even born.

Had I known I might have made a point of immigrating back when DC1-2 were still very small. It would not such an issue in my home country to travel for 3 weeks in the other direction during term time. My best recent estimates of costs to immigrate back are at least £20k. Have been seriously considering it.

No friendship issues, academic or over-sub problems any of the previous times we've done this trip.

My boss (Uni academic) once went on working sabbatical with his many kids for maybe 4 months. Took loads of school work, trip of a lifetime, fantastic for his career & family financial security, lots of cultural exchange, loads of networking with big names. Imagine that now, ha!

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sat 12-Oct-13 19:01:37

I'd go with changing the flights so the kids are only absent for 10 school days, if at all possible. It sounds like the school is prepared to play hardball. Besides, it would ruin your wonderful trip if you were thinking in the back of your mind the whole time, "I wonder if DC will be kicked out of school for this."

Or see maybe if the school will compromise. You could try asking if the head would accept an absence of 12 days, for example. That would technically be just over the limit, but would show them that you're not being totally inflexible. If they totally insist on 10 days, though, I'm not sure there's a whole lot you can do about it.

My late mom was a teacher and long absences during school terms used to drive her nuts. She found it really hard to re-integrate kids back into the classroom, and other kids in the class would get resentful that one kid got this fabulous trip abroad and they didn't. Plus, giving the kids work to do while they were away just increased her workload before they went and after they got back.

I can relate, though. When my BIL had his civil partnership 2 years ago in England, it was during the school term, and the principal wouldn't let us take DS out for longer than a week. It felt totally unfair to be flying from Canada to the UK for just a week, because it is such a long flight. Even though I knew full well the teacher's point of view on it, from my mom, it still felt unjust.

keepsmiling12345 Sat 12-Oct-13 19:08:10

Sorry lijkk not clear who is asking you to have had a better crystal ball when your DC were born? My point is simply that OP knew the rules when she enrolled her children at the school (only three years ago, assuming child in Y2) and the regulations even then would have allowed the removal from school roll after such an absence.

keepsmiling12345 Sat 12-Oct-13 19:52:53

By the way, * lijkk *, coming back to a point you made in your post, a child at my DD's school has been taken out for a 6month period so her father could take a short sabbatical overseas. As you say, a chance of a lifetime. But the school place was not kept open and so they took the decision to take the chance that their DS, who would return into Y4, would get a place on their return. Because of the high turnover of pupils (we have lots of children from families here on 3 year postings etc), the slightly less stringent class size regulations in KS2, their DS got a place back in the school only two months after they returned.

I am all for people taking opportunities when they arise but not for expecting that regulations shouldn't apply to them.

scaevola Sat 12-Oct-13 19:57:32

"4 yrs ago we went & got 3 weeks approval without problem. Ditto 4 yrs before that."

Then your HT was breaking the rules then in force. Under the new rules HT can authorise as long as by deem fit. Before that, the ceiling was 10 days.

MaggieW Sat 12-Oct-13 19:59:13

Three weeks ie ten school days is doable for a trip like this, whereas I think a month is a luxury (and I'm from the other side of the world and have done the trip with 2 pre and primary-age DCs at least four times). I don't think there will be any friendship issues etc etc but it's a lot of learning to miss.

I know how expensive it is to fly such a distance but it's just something you have to swallow. We've always gone in the summer hol's, which isn't ideal, as it means missing summer here and going to winter there, but if that's what it takes, then that's the trade-off.

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