WWYD - request for authorised absence turned down...

(76 Posts)
edam Fri 23-Nov-12 12:08:32

Hi, I'm having an ethical dilemma and would be interestedin what you think... ds and I have got an invite to a play by a great children's author - a serious dramatist who also writes for children. So it's 'educational' in that sense. Only it's a matinee on a school day. I asked the head whether ds could have authorised absence and she's said no, which is fair enough I suppose (even though I know plenty of parents 'take' an extra few days around Feb half-term to go skiing and so on).

I really do want to take ds, this is a one-off event and there's no way we could go in the evening (finishes far too late) but also we couldn't pay for tickets - dh has been out of work so money v. v. tight.

WWYD? Would you pass up the opportunity, or would your child have a convenient cold, or would you be honest with the school and say, sorry, we are going, stick it down as unauthorised?

blisterpack Fri 23-Nov-12 12:10:17

What I have done in this situation is to go anyway.

blisterpack Fri 23-Nov-12 12:11:00

Not that it was to watch a play though but to visit elderly relatives.

Catsdontcare Fri 23-Nov-12 12:11:45

Go anyway the unauthorised absence will only affect the school's figures it won't stop your kid getting into uni!

BlissfullyIgnorant Fri 23-Nov-12 12:14:54

Write back to Head, state your case and add plenty of weight to the educational value of meeting the author, and compare it to the lessons that will be missed.

And then go.

YDdraigGoch Fri 23-Nov-12 12:17:29

I'd ask to discuss with the Head. What is the reason school has refused?

mollymole Fri 23-Nov-12 12:18:54

Why is it 'far too late' if it is just a 1 off ?

prh47bridge Fri 23-Nov-12 12:30:55

However you do it, convenient cold or honest, you should be aware that the school may impose a fine of £60 for unauthorised absence.

Cartoonjane Fri 23-Nov-12 12:34:11

I'd be honest with the school and go anyway. My daughter is at this minute at home with me because I have pcked her up early so we can get an earlier start for a weekend away. She'll have an unauthorised absence but so what?

Startail Fri 23-Nov-12 12:35:03

Go, school can't set presidents, but I doubt they'll do anything.

Startail Fri 23-Nov-12 12:35:41


LaCiccolina Fri 23-Nov-12 12:39:19


Take photos of trip for 'show n tell' type opportunity if asked. Sometimes parents know best. Odd concept to those preparing figures for statistics these days.

Assuming u are not always removing kid from class of course...

givemeaclue Fri 23-Nov-12 12:40:35

Go, its half a day

Wigeon Fri 23-Nov-12 12:41:59

How old is your DS?

I definitely wouldn't go though. There are about a billion "educational" things you could do instead of school. I could fill up every day with educational trips out with the DC. But we do those at the weekend because in the week DD is at school.

just go, they very rarely authorise that sort of absence. it will be marked down as unauthorised. no big deal at all for one day or one half day.

is the play suitable for children?

although now you ahve asked and been refused your dc might just have to have a cold for a day

Catsmamma Fri 23-Nov-12 12:45:28

You mistake is to ask permission from the school for YOU to do something you view as important with YOUR child

Just tell them

Dear Absence Obsessed HT

Please note that Master Edam will not be attending school on the afternoon of the play.

Hugs and Buns and sorry about your Ofteds

Mrs Edam.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 23-Nov-12 12:49:51

I would go. (I'm a teacher )

But I wouldn't lie about the reason.

You are massively unlikely to be fined for one afternoon if there is no history of absence normally

(Who's the author?)

prh47bridge Fri 23-Nov-12 13:13:48

I agree it is very unlikely if there is no history of absence but I do know of cases where it has happened.

PandaG Fri 23-Nov-12 13:17:05

what time do you need to leave for the play? It may be you can pick him up after the register has been taken so he gets his mark, and then leave for the theatre. I have done this once when needing to get away early to make a family wedding rehearsal before the big event the following day.

teacherwith2kids Fri 23-Nov-12 13:19:12

I'm with Shipwrecked.

Go, and be honest.

Heads work within county policy, and in many counties this policy is now to authorise no absence whatever except on medical grounds. There is no discretion (so, Catsmamma, your wrath is misdirected - the LEA would be a better target).

So inform the head that you know that the absence will be unauthorised, and that you are sorry but you will go anyway.

If this is your child's only half day absence this year, where I work that would not trigger any consequences.

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Fri 23-Nov-12 13:19:34

I would (and have in the past) written a polite letter to the HT along the lines of "thank you for considering our request - we have decided to take DS anyway as we think that the educational value outweighs blah blah blah - understand that this will be recorded as unauthorised and sorry for any inconvenience."

Go to the play and don't give it another minute's thought.

exexpat Fri 23-Nov-12 13:22:39

Just go. Sounds far more educational than just another afternoon of school, and I expect privately the head would agree, but they have very little personal discretion about what they authorise these days. And I don't think you could be fined for one afternoon's absence - that only happens with a big block (week's holiday) or repeated days off, from what I've heard.

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 13:25:05

sorry guys, didn't mean to post and run, MN has not been loading for some reason. I can now read your comments, so am going to ponder..

DoubleDoubleTwigletTrouble Fri 23-Nov-12 13:27:33

The HT actually does have personal discretion, as far as I'm aware. He or she will be under pressure from the LEA though. Last time I checked (few months ago (the fine was £50 per child, per day - for each parent). You certainly can be fined for one day's absence but it's very, very unlikely.

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 13:43:18

Right, looks like the majority vote is to go anyway and be honest about it. Ds does have a very good attendance record - he's in Yr 5, btw. I can't remember the last time he was off sick, he's doing well at school, always hands his homework in on time and so on. As he should do, of course, nothing special about that, just saying there's no pattern of swinging the lead here. (My Mother always worked so we were never allowed to be off sick unless we were actually bleeding from an artery and I've followed her example...)

sausagesandwich34 Fri 23-Nov-12 13:48:45

I can't believe the school has said no to a play and meeting the author? if that's not and opportunity to be educated of site, I don't know what is???

unless it's to go and see octonauts or some other pap

snowmummy Fri 23-Nov-12 13:56:49

I'd go. I'd also ask on what grounds the leave was turned down. It sounds like a really good educational opportunity to me.

Svrider Fri 23-Nov-12 14:01:30

My dd had an authorised absence on her school report last term
I know I phoned them (she was off sick having been sent home early the day before hmm)
I phoned the school and net with the head of year
She told me not to worry
I suggest you do the same

5madthings Fri 23-Nov-12 14:11:35

i would go, it sounds lovely and its ine day or even.just one afternoon depending on the time if the performance.

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 15:00:35

Oh, forgot someone asked what the play is: Feathers in the Snow by Philip Ridley.

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 15:01:21

(He writes plays for adults and books for children, this is the first play for children.)

Svrider Fri 23-Nov-12 15:01:28

Unauthorised obs.

Groovee Fri 23-Nov-12 15:07:47

I'd go to the event and accept the unauthorised absence.

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 15:23:30

Just to put another spin on things....

As a secondary teacher, I often have students missing from lessons as they are on school trips - or 'educational visits'. These can cause massive inconvenience - particularly when up to half a class are missing and you have to find 'something meaningful' for the rest of the class to do that doesn't disadvantage the absentees.

Most of these trips are very valid and valuable - trips to WW1 battlefields in Belgium, trips to mosques, field trips to the coast to see sea defences.

Some of them are simply school sponsored 'jollies'. Three days at Disneyland Paris with ICT. WTF? The Maths trip to Alton Towers. The sixth form trips are the most disruptive, as students can miss double lessons and thus over half a week's worth. There are many that have only the most tenuous link to the curriculum.

What I'm trying to say is that I find it extremely irritating when schools take a 'hard line' on absence and yet actively condone it when it is organised by them.

Blu Fri 23-Nov-12 15:23:53

Definitely go.

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 15:29:39

Thanks Blu, your words carry weight a. because you are Blu and b. because of your job!

And thanks radical, interesting to have that perspective.

Thanks to everyone, in fact, been very useful to have the MN jury as I was wobbling a bit. Didn't want to set ds A Bad Example and all that.

Blu Fri 23-Nov-12 15:49:52

wink Edam

a) it should be very good
b) if it is he will remember that afternoon forever
c)it will give him great ideas and keep his brain buzzing, and make him want to read the books
c) schools do not take children on enough good quality theatre, music and gallery trips,- someone has to do it!!
d) a head teacher would be bonkers not to see this as an educational opportunity - s/he probably feels no leeway over the definition of what can be authorised and will secretly agree that you should go
d) I am a curmudgeonly old gradgrind about not taking DS out of school - never ddf it for holiday, but I did take him out for a whole day to visit CERN and it was 100% the right thing to do.

I hope it is good - I'll be interested to hear back!

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 20:06:22

wow, you took your ds to CERN?! It's as if I've fallen into an episode of the Big Bang Theory grin

Will report back, but it's not for a week or two. I've already put several of the books on my shopping list, they look great but I'd never come across Philip Ridley before.

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 20:29:12

A trip to CERN......envy

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 20:32:59

I think there will be a lot of people releasing their inner Sheldon on this thread now Blu's mentioned that...

exexpat Fri 23-Nov-12 20:42:52

We went to CERN in the summer. Sadly my DCs aren't as interested in science as I am sad.

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 20:50:59

If I went to CERN, I would leave DH with both DCs at home.

Selfish me.

Mind you, DS is 6. I think the Higgs Boson is a bit beyond him at present.

Pyrrah Fri 23-Nov-12 20:52:33

I asked DD's teacher about taking DD out for an afternoon at the end of term to see The Nutcracker at ENO since I've been offered tickets. Even though she is in the Nursery and therefore not obliged to be in school as far as the LEA is concerned, I was advised that pulling a sickie would be a far, far better idea.

Since the form teacher knows the real reason I'm okay with it - as I don't trust DD not to tell her exactly where she was the day before!

So I would go 100%.

Btw, does anyone know what the score is regarding unauthorised absences at free-schools or academies? Does the LEA still get involved or is it down to individual schools to police themselves?

Ponders Fri 23-Nov-12 20:59:23

the whole authorisation for absences thing has got completely out of hand IMO

I feel so sorry for teachers/heads who would mostly doubtless love to say "yes, of course you should go, it will be enriching for you all" but daren't because of bloody regulations sad

My eldest left primary school in 1993 & her Head used to encourage people to take their kids out of school in pursuit of broadening their horizons. Honestly I could weep sometimes at what has been done to education.

Anyway, edam - go! damn you, GO!!! grin

I would also go. My dd was also turned down for something similar and I went.

radicalsubstitution Fri 23-Nov-12 21:10:10

Ponders Heads actually still have the powers to authorise absence under 'exceptional circumstances'. Whilst LEAs will always support heads in refusing absence, they are often very cautious about specifying what 'exceptional' circumstances are.

I am so glad that our LEA gives just enough 'grey area' that heads can make their own decision. I know some heads in the LEA who grant NO absence in term time. DS' head still authorises absences for nothing more complicated than family holidays occasionally.

May she continue to do so.......

Ponders Fri 23-Nov-12 21:23:26

Whilst LEAs will always support heads in refusing absence, they are often very cautious about specifying what 'exceptional' circumstances are

exactly sad

BooksandaCuppa Fri 23-Nov-12 21:49:07

Surely that could go down as 'educated offsite'? I would ask politely that that's what the Head puts it down as. Take him anyway. And take the theatre programme in for show and tell!

expansivegirth Fri 23-Nov-12 22:25:49

Please go. The problem here is not you, but the school policy. Definitely go. I agree with Ponders. It's nuts these days and is to be defied. It particularly annoys me as the hard line absence policy is meant to be because of a correlation between poor attendance and educational outcomes in later life. But the policy is applied even when it's obviously not relevant, as in this situation. There is obviously a difference between someone never coming to school because their parent is pulling them out to babysit a younger child, or is letting them truant so they can wonder the streets or stay at home watching TV. It particularly annoys me given that, at my kids school they spent half an hour this afternoon watching cartoons in educational class time, and whenever it rains they sit indoors and watch Disney Films...and I'm meant to not take them out for the day so they can do this!!!!!!!!! B*llocks!

SuffolkNWhat Fri 23-Nov-12 22:29:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Piezilla Fri 23-Nov-12 22:37:03

Can they fine for a half day absence? I always see the figures quoted as being per day. Anyone know?

IslaValargeone Fri 23-Nov-12 22:38:46

Another saying go.
Never let school interfere with your education.

trixymalixy Fri 23-Nov-12 22:40:51

Definitely go.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Fri 23-Nov-12 22:44:33

It is far too brilliant an opportunity to miss. Let them put it down as whatever they fancy <shrug>

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 23:05:24

Aw, you are all lovely. I thought I'd get loads of people saying 'how DARE you suggest your PFB skips school, it's terribly disruptive, how will he ever respect authority if you blah blah blah'. (Not that I want to raise a fore-lock tugger - challenging authority when it is wrong is jolly important IMO but I was worried that in this case the school were in the right and I was wrong.)

edam Fri 23-Nov-12 23:06:32

(Not that I want him to be an irritating know-it-all either. Wow, I'm dancing on pin-heads here...)

CameronSmith Sat 24-Nov-12 04:12:03

If it is logged as educational trip it wouldn't count in the attendance figures monitored by ofsted would it?

It seemed to be that it was when our school got satisfactory instead of outstanding for attendance that policy changed and it all went wrong. There is no balance anymore. It is blanket no to every request unless you are in police or forces.

On the reports our school give, the days that school shut when staff on strike, days for educational trips etc were not in the abscence figures. So surely if HT agrees its educational visit he'd have no issue with his/her stats for Ofsted. I bet if your child was really sporty & was playing in county match somewhere they'd count it as such - ours do! But those of us with non sporty kids who would benefit from academic trip (science festival/ literary festival, theatre,) no!

Go, have a great time but don't go "off sick". Be honest.

PastSellByDate Sat 24-Nov-12 08:05:09


Can I just query - has your school ever taken your child as part of a class or whole school trip to see a play or a movie?

In which case, the Head has previously deemed such experiences as educational and therefore she can't now arbitrarily declare an equivalent opportunity as an unexcused absence. Unless she's intending to never allow the class/ whole school to attend a play/ movie again on similar grounds.

If your child has ever had a trip off campus for a play/ movie then I'd raise this directly with the governors now. This is about the school's attendance record (for which you should be reading ££££) - and isn't about providing this individual child with access to an educational opportunity.

I can see a Head saying no to a few days off so you can go to Disneyland on a discounted trip in term time - but this just isn't the case. This is an absolutely defendable educational visit and should be recorded as such - in the same way a ballet exam, a music exam, etc... would be if taken during the school day.

If your DS has attended a play/ movie through school trips, I would begin a complaint and write to the school governors. I would explain what you are doing - what the play is, who the author is, that your son will be meeting him, etc... and suggest to the governors that as a compromise your DS should be asked to produce a report or review on the play/ experience to the Head. Thus documenting the educational benefit for the school.


edam Sat 24-Nov-12 10:47:29

Irony is, I am actually a governor! Even more reason to be careful - governors really do not get any special favours and I don't want to give people the impression we do. (Boot v much on other foot, governors give an enormous amount of time and energy - we've had a few step down because the commitment is too much when they have other calls on their time.)

And I WILL be honest and say we are going. Partly started this this thread because dh wasn't sure - he thought if the head said no, we shouldn't go (he's a conformist whose first instinct is to obey rules, bless him). Fortunately MN has stiffened his resolve. grin

edam Sat 24-Nov-12 10:48:28

And they have had trips, of course, although the last time I remember a theatre thing the company came into school.

motherinferior Sat 24-Nov-12 10:53:40

I took DD1 out of school to go to Paris for a Friday as part of a weekend there. Which was only sort of arguably educational, although it was rather terrific for her. School authorised it.

edam Sat 24-Nov-12 10:57:01

Hello MI! Did you get my email?

motherinferior Sat 24-Nov-12 10:59:44

I did. I was getting all overexcited at the possibility of spending my days editing about episiostomies so I will re-focus back on it on Monday grin

Blu Sat 24-Nov-12 11:15:00

If anyone is interested in going to CERN, it's actually quite do-able if you can save up for the flights.

We got day returns on EasyJet for about £18 each way each, and then it is a very short door to door bus or tram form the airport to CERN. We got a 7.30am flight out and a tea time or early eve flight home, and we had time to get the tram to the lakeside for a coffee and ice cream, too.

They have a culture of being v open and welcoming. There is a good public exhibition and museum, I'm not sure if there are public guided tours of the research sites and the testing place where they test new sections of tunnel. We were shown round by a relative who was on student placement there. The cafe is incredibly expensive, being Geneva, but there is no differentiation between top researchers and visiting public, they all eat in the same canteen, and there is a big display showing the particles in various tunnels and every so often a table full of physicists will leap up and rush to their labs.

I would take a packed lunch, even the Burger King at the airport was bank breaking!

edam Sat 24-Nov-12 13:16:27

Ooh, thanks Blu, that is a huge tip-off. I didn't realise CERN was open to the public at all.

MI grin

You can go to Cern??!

pointythings Sat 24-Nov-12 18:00:29

I have to say that I have given up asking for authorised absences. I just lie. Sorry, schools - you've brought it on yourselves. not your fault, blame OFSTED. But that's the way it is.

Not that my DDs have had a day of unauthorised absence ever, but I'll do it this way if I ever have to - I have lost all faith.

edam Sat 08-Dec-12 00:01:00

Update: well, we went. grin

It was fantastic. Funny, exciting, thought-provoking... went down extremely well with an audience mainly composed of kids ds's age. And ds read the script from start to finish afterwards.

PastSellByDate Mon 24-Dec-12 06:07:15

Good on you edam!

Happy Christmas.

PS Thanks for posting - I found out you can visit CERN and DD2 is space/ Brian Cox mad. Maybe not this year - but DH is very excited by the idea of a trip there for DD2's benefit.

Glad you went.

Think my dds school is in the minority- we just took them out of school for 5 days at end of term to go to centre parcs which was authorised by the head.

They are in reception & nursery.

Fil booked it not ages ago before he realised schools broke up so near Xmas this year as sil and kids over from Australia.

I was panicking but we got it authorised with a note saying don't make a habit of it. Nephew at same school also got authorised - yr 3.

My sisters kids different school same LEA never get authorisation for any absence

alanyoung Tue 08-Jan-13 20:38:06

As I understand the situation, parents can remove their children for religious festivals, so why can't you remove them for such an inspiring educational trip?

SE13Mummy Tue 08-Jan-13 21:46:13

I'm glad you went and that your DS enjoyed it.

FWIW, I'm a teacher who, if offered a similar opportunity for my own DCs, would have contacted the school to let them know that I'd be 'collecting X at 1.45pm on the Xth of December for an appointment'. By collecting after the afternoon registration period the DCs wouldn't be absent and this is what I've encouraged parents of children in my class to do too.

pylonic Tue 08-Jan-13 22:40:45

How refreshing, that people, even teachers, are suggesting it's perfectly adequate to take a day off for recreational purposes and stuff the school because it's only all about their Ofsted grades anyway.

Another thread, another time, and this advice is turned inside out, eh? wink

Primafacie Thu 10-Jan-13 21:01:59

Hmm, yes Pylonic, it's EXACTLY the same as having such a shit record at getting your child to school that you are threatened with SS.

I'm sure your child gets massive educational benefit every single morning when you are snoozing in bed, too lazy to get up.

I honestly cannot see any difference whatsoever. Can you? hmm

Primafacie Thu 10-Jan-13 21:03:37

Sorry, I meant to add, I had not appreciated that your laziness was "for recreational purposes"! smile what on earth do you do in bed wink?

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