I need to take DS's out of school in term time, advice please?

(59 Posts)
mummyplonk Thu 10-Jan-13 14:46:02

Hiya, I have DS's in years 3 and 2. My brother (their only Uncle) has just proposed to his lovely girlfriend, they are going to get married in Novemebr next year. One problem, he lives in Australia sad we obviously hardly ever see him, we have never been able to afford to go there and he has announced he is going to pay for all of our flights and our parents so there will be 6 of our family and 100 of her smile.

I have never taken them out of school before but we are not going to miss his wedding for the world. It seems like an exceptional circumstance to me, do you think so too? and because of the distance I was thinking about asking for 3 weeks? Is there a maximum amount of time they will authorise does anyone know? This is probably the only time in our life we will all go there, accomodation provided so would you ask 3 as well or try and push it to 4 weeks? Thanks for reading.

tiredteddy Thu 10-Jan-13 14:54:24

Well you dc will be. Year 3 and 4 by next nov. Also no SATS fir school to worry about in those tears. Could you include the October half term as a week the ask 2/3 more so less school missed. Also outline the educational benefits of the trip?

steppemum Thu 10-Jan-13 14:55:00

I think the maximum is 3 weeks, however if he marries in the first half of november it would follow on from half term. They might be more amenable if you show you have tried to minimise school loss by going over half term.

Some schools though just do an automatic no unless it is VERY exceptional and not sure if uncle's wedding would count.
If you take them out anyway you risk a fine which might be worth paying and going anyway

steppemum Thu 10-Jan-13 14:55:22

sorry, I meant the maximum is 2 weeks

Tiggles Thu 10-Jan-13 14:55:43

When we took DS1 to Australia (had to go with work, unavoidable) the school allowed 2weeks authorised and 1 week unauthorised. We put him school in Australia for some of the time he was there, but even still he had unauthorised absence on his school record back here.

tiggytape Thu 10-Jan-13 14:59:45

I very much doubt it will be authorised. Family weddings do not count as exceptional circumstances (even if it is your clsoe family - there's a recent case here).
You may be lucky and have a Head prepared to go against policy and put their neck on the line but most would say no especially as it is for so long.

That doesn't mean you cannot still go just that it may not be authorised. Unauthorised leave can lead to fines for each child.

DewDr0p Thu 10-Jan-13 15:02:01

Max that will be authorised here for a holiday is 2 weeks.

However I am sure there is separate provision for visiting family. I would have a good read of your school/council's policy.

However if there is any way of incorporating half term then I think that would show very willing.

mummyplonk Thu 10-Jan-13 15:18:59

Thanks for all the replies, good idea about half term. At the moment it looks like it will Friday the 29th, heres hoping they get a date a bit earlier in the month. I had better look into the fines as well (per child, gulp) hope we are not talking £1000's for that.

DevaDiva Thu 10-Jan-13 15:37:16

My DCs primary would prob ok 3 weeks, twins in my DSs class have just had an extra 3 weeks over christmas to go to NZ, first visit to their Mums home country and they're 8.

Im hoping this means our new head is as pro experiencing new things as I've not put in our application to take the DCs out for a week for glastonbury yet grin thank goodness it doesn't clash with DDs SATs

Garnier Thu 10-Jan-13 15:45:21

The fine won't be much. £50 per parent per child. So I would just go for it. £200 if you pay as soon as you get the fine. But obviously tell the school your reasons, as they may authorise.

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Thu 10-Jan-13 16:25:14

Garnier, my school fines £50 per parent/per child/per half day session. So 2 DC with 2 parents for one week = 50 x 2 x 2 x 10 = £2000!

mummyplonk Thu 10-Jan-13 16:47:42

Wwwhhaaaaat, omg, can't find anything on fines, will keep googling council websites.

tiggytape Thu 10-Jan-13 16:52:43

From September the fines stand at £60. Here

Startail Thu 10-Jan-13 16:56:17

But has anyone ever been fined and if so as anyone bothered paying up.

Garnier Thu 10-Jan-13 16:58:51

Ellen - which authority is that cos I have never heard of a fine for that much? The fine usually is put in place after the 3rd day of unauthorised.
Been fined here¬ A stiff letter and it was quashed.

mummyplonk Thu 10-Jan-13 17:00:20

Gosh just found our locAl newspaper fined a mum £235 for taking her daughter to a terminally ill relatives wedding in Scotland for a week, they turned down her application 2 days before the wedding. It went to court. They authorised 1 day for the wedding, different school but nearby, not looking good so far.

PrimrosePath Thu 10-Jan-13 17:03:10

My dc school wouldn't authorise the leave, but haven't been known to fine either.

It might be worth investigating the fining policy to save yourself a nasty shock when you return. But have a lovely time.

PrimrosePath Thu 10-Jan-13 17:04:54

X post.

Can you speak to other parents to see if anyone has been fined?

tiggytape Thu 10-Jan-13 17:05:55

Startail - fines are now very, very common.
If you don't pay, they take can you to court (less common but does happen - see my link above about the woman who went to court over 11 days missed for her wedding where she wanted her son to give her away).

Some schools and areas are stricter than others (even though they are all supposed to be cracking down on it) In Essex for example the number fined has gone up 400% in the last 5 years

dixiechick1975 Thu 10-Jan-13 17:06:21

I would speak to the head. You are going so what is the best way to work things for you and the school.

If the school is undersubscribed could they leave and re join after Xmas for example.

In our area it's very common to go to see relatives in Pakistan in term time and seems to be managed. Never heard of any fines. My neighbours went for 3 weeks in term time (jr age chidren) at short notice when someone died.

5madthings Thu 10-Jan-13 17:15:11

I dont know where you are but our lea's policy is that they will fine if its more than ten days unauthorised absence AND if the child already had a bad attendence record. They give a % that you cant go below? But i cant rembet. Your lea's policy should be on their website. Ours is part of yhe county council websitr.

I think you should go and try and get one week to be half term. It us an amazing opportunitu.

All you can do is write to the head teachet and stress the one off nature of it and i would even say its not something you can afford but your brother is paying as its his wedding etc.

We are lucky our ht is fairly flexible and if children have an othetwise good attendrnce he will authorise time off.

We have had time off authorised but dp's job means its hard and some times impossible for him to.have time off in school holidays.

Other parents have had time off for various things, i have a friend whose two children are off this week, skiing. It was authorised.

It basically depends on the head teacher.

vjg13 Thu 10-Jan-13 17:16:29

There is a child in my daughter's year 5 class who has had a month in total including the Xmas holidays and weeks either side to visit her Mum's home country. I think the school has agreed it with the parents but have been a bit arsey.

I would approach the HT and see what is said. They should look at school attendance, how they are getting on etc.

Startail Thu 10-Jan-13 19:58:16

I know our primary never cared in the past and DF had no trouble going out to Australia for several weeks.

She does have an Australia DH with elderly relatives, which helped.

I think schools are actually much more reasonable than Ofsted and County would like them to be.

The one day I've wanted DD2 to have they were fine about.

Won't get any more leaway this year for the first time ever she managed to be ill for a whole week. Typical after they were so nice.

DewDr0p Thu 10-Jan-13 21:00:28

Not sure if you saw my comment earlier about visiting family? This is treated differently to holiday - do look into it.

pointythings Thu 10-Jan-13 21:12:19

Well, a friend of DD's in Yr7 went to Australia with her mum for 3 weeks (including half term so 2 weeks really) and the school authorised it quite happily as it was not going to happen again until past A-levels. I suspect it would have been different for a Yr9 though.

mummyplonk Thu 10-Jan-13 21:36:57

Thanks dewdrops that is worth knowing, may be useful.

DeWe Thu 10-Jan-13 21:43:41

I think here you'd likely get time for a family wedding at a primary. BUT you wouldn't get more than a week. They'd say a week is plenty for a wedding, after that it becomes a holiday.
The fact you don't think you'll do it again is irrelevant... people say that then assume they'll get the time off again, and book the holiday next year as well and the tell the school.

lunchbox Thu 10-Jan-13 21:46:00

We're off to oz over Easter for 4 weeks, so one week either side of Easter hols.

School authorised it, but I put on the form how educational it would be, was happy to take work for dd, plus I'd make her write a diary, and how it was once-in-a-lifetime, visiting family etc.

meditrina Thu 10-Jan-13 21:48:20

The legal maximum which a HT has discretion to authorise is 10 days, but the key word in that is 'discretion' - individual HTs may opt to authorise only some or none of it. And anything over 10 days will be unauthorised even if you have a really accommodating one. Whether a fine is imposed depends on the stance of your LEA.

Can you make any of it fit with half term?

sniggy01 Fri 11-Jan-13 23:33:50

I am chair of governors at a primary school - whether you will be allowed time depends on a few things - there will be an attendance percentage for your child and if this is above the school cut off then the head teacher should be able to grant 2 weeks - any extra time should be referred to the governors and they will look at each request. I think we would give you another week at least. If I can help some more then let me know

christinecagney Sun 13-Jan-13 15:05:51

Sniggy... That's only the way it's done in your school. It's not a common approach, I would say. Legally only the HT can make the decision (I am a HT and this came up in my school ages ago...the LA was v clear that I was on my own with the decision and it would be me taking responsibility etc etc regardless of governors' input). There isn't a cut off that would work with a 4 weeks absence request ...the pupil will inevitably have an annual attendance of well less than 95%, even if they attend every other possible day, which the HT will have to account for. Of course, the HT might be OK with that, but it depends on lots of other factors eg the overall school attendance.

OP.. You can ask though of course. Make an appointment to see the HT and talk it through first, before you put it in writing.

clam Sun 13-Jan-13 18:15:26

lunchbox I don't suppose you putting on your form how eudcational you thought your trip was, and asking for work to take (which hacks lots of teachers off if they're being expected to provide and mark it), made any difference to the absence being authorised. The HT is perfectly able to decide if they think a trip is educational or not - might be different in your case but you'd be surprised how many parents try to dress up a week's all-inclusive in Spain as being educational.

Ilovesunflowers Sun 13-Jan-13 18:45:28

clam - I used to be a teacher and no teacher I know would be annoyed at providing work (as long as there was a bit of notice by the parents).

clam Sun 13-Jan-13 18:56:30

My school (and others I know) have a policy of refusing to set work for holidays taken in term time. Pupils who are ill, of course, if it's appropriate, but not holidays.

DoodleNoo Wed 16-Jan-13 11:54:57

They might authorise up to two weeks depending on school / LA policy, maybe more if you are very lucky and take time to explain the special nature of the trip. You might then have to accept that extra time might go down as unauthorised, but really, big deal?!

Most LA will have an Educational Welfare Officer - I guess you might get a letter, but they are there to deal with persistent truanting, not a one-family occasion like this. I don't see that they would have a leg to stand on if they decided to get heavy, unless your kids have very bad attendance record and attitude to school anyway. The very fact that you're worrying about it and posting about it on mumsnet suggests that's probably not the case.

And if they fine you, again, why worry. It'd only be £50 or £100, and that's not lot to pay for a holiday like this!

I'd talk to the head and find out his / her opinion of what might be deemed reasonable. I have taken mine out for a week on this sort of occasion, not been granted any leave because our school don't ever grant any, but the head was fairly sympathetic and although said she couldn't authorise it due to school policy, she would turn a blind eye and that if we wanted to go, we should, and not worry about it.

They are your kids after all, and not the council's!

ItsIcyOutsideIThinkINeedThorin Wed 16-Jan-13 17:38:36

It is £50 per child, per parent, per day - but it is not true that fines are very common. They may be common in one particular area but a realtive of mine is an EWO and they hardly ever fine parents... only the repeat offenders.

ToeCap Thu 17-Jan-13 09:39:41

I have never heard of this 'per day' business? Are you sure? Mine was flat rate fine. £50 per child per parent. So max £200 doubling if not paid within 28 days.
Has anyone had this 'per day' fine?

ItsIcyOutsideIThinkINeedThorin Thu 17-Jan-13 09:47:28

Hmm, well now you mention it I'm not sure! smile The fine is for a session of absence and I was sure that I read that some LEAs see 1 week as 5 sessions. But I can't find anything to back that up so maybe I misread or misunderstood blush

scaevola Thu 17-Jan-13 09:50:42

"I think we would give you another week at least."

That would be illegal. The provision for up to 10 days authorised leave is part of the Education Act, and it is explicitly at HT's (not governors') discretion.

The provision for fines (including per-session fines) for unauthorised leave was also introduced in law (thanks, New Labour)

ToeCap Thu 17-Jan-13 09:51:08

I can't see them enforcing a 'per day' fine. They would never recover the money. It could run into thousands with 2 or 3 children off for a fortnight. I know they want to scare people into not taking a hol in term time, but that is ridiculous! My LEA told me on the QT that they will only proceed through the courts if they a pretty damn sure they can recover the money, as it is expensive. They look at each case individually and decide whether it is worth it. More often than not, they don't. It would have to be a persistant offender.

DeWe Thu 17-Jan-13 11:47:41

Per day fine is operated in this area, and not just for repeat performers. Know someone who had 3 children away for a fortnight. That came to 3 x 2 x 10 x 50 = 3000. Bit of a shock as they thought they'd got a cheap holiday. They appealled and lost.
I know others who've been fined for odd days too, they thought they'd get away with it as their dc had had no absence before, but that wasn't taken into consideration.

ToeCap Thu 17-Jan-13 12:25:38

which area are you if you don't mind me asking? Cos I cannot find anything on the net?

ToeCap Thu 17-Jan-13 12:38:42
ToeCap Thu 17-Jan-13 12:41:14

The only time it could rise to £1000 is if it is taken successfully through the courts. Which, if one paid up at the beginning could still have a cheaper holdiay in term time.

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 12:44:10

I'd aim for the 4 weeks myself - see where you go - if they are going to say no they 're going to say no.

No school can fine per half day - its downto local counci guidelines.

Its an appalling I infringement on our right to parent our own children.

They will learn a lot in a month to Australia - I love that they learn about airports in school - but visiting one is banned.

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 12:46:38

The prob with percentages is they are higher in first term than in say June.

jeee Thu 17-Jan-13 12:50:10

Assuming permission won't be granted (and you may yet be surprised), could you just withdraw your children from school for the period? Will there be space for them when you get back? Not ideal, but I think sometimes schools don't fully get the issues of dispersed extended families.

ivykaty44 Thu 17-Jan-13 12:53:44

This makes me so sad to read sad a family wanting to go and be with other family at a wedding on the other side of the earth is a battle due to schooling.

Where is the value of family and relatives sad We should promote family and family life as important.

izzyishappilybusy Thu 17-Jan-13 13:13:52

It doesn't make me sad it angers me - its the opportunity of a lifetime - when I was in school a month in Australia would have been seen as a good thiNguyen.

ItsIcyOutsideIThinkINeedThorin Thu 17-Jan-13 13:19:51

jeee has a good idea there. If your head is amenable you could ask whether there are spaces in your DCs classes at the school. If so, then you could deregister them, saying that you are going to homeschool (and it will be genuine homeschooling, as they will be learning and experiencing loads!) and then you can reapply for a place when you get back. This only works if there are space though, as otherwise you might find yourself homeschooing permanently smile

morethanpotatoprints Thu 17-Jan-13 20:24:14

I find it unbelievable that LEAs are able to do this. If school was compulsory I could understand it a bit more. I know that the dc in question are on the school roll, but surely they aren't going to miss much if they take a month out.
I'm sure the fines only serve to fill the depleted pot of local government, just like any other gov fines these days.

If it were me I would go for it anyway, but also keep a journal of all the subjects, topics etc their visit included.

GhoulWithADragonTattoo Fri 18-Jan-13 14:24:23

Does your brother have any flexibility over the date of the wedding? I would suggest you either add on two weeks after the Oct half term hols or 2 weeks prior to the Xmas hols. Our head teacher is happy to approve 2 weeks for holidays so long as it's all in one block.

Frikadellen Fri 18-Jan-13 17:16:07

Well I live in Kent and we had the following send to us on the 9th of November 2012

The Educational Welfare Officer from Kent County Council’s Attendance Service visited {name of school}
last term to ask us to remind parents that ‘regular and punctual attendance at school is
both a legal requirement and essential for pupils to maximise their educational
opportunities.”, and to advise parents that under section 444 of the Education Act 1996
penalty notices (fines) will be issued to those parents whose children have unauthorised
absence. Under new guidance issued by Kent County Council the following will apply from the
beginning of term 2:

A parent of any pupil who has 10 unauthorised sessions in any two terms will be issued
with a penalty notice. By a session we mean 1 morning or 1 afternoon - therefore 10
sessions is equal to 5 days.

A parent of any pupil who is late for more than 10 sessions in any two terms will be
issued with a penalty notice.

A parent of any pupil who has had 10 consecutive unauthorised absences will be issued
with a penalty notice.

A penalty notice is a fine of £120 (reduced to £60 if paid within 28 days of receipt of notice) per
parent per child. So if a parent has two children with unauthorised absences or late sessions,
the fine would be £480 (each parent would be fined £120 per child. A parent also counts as a
partner who may be living at the same house as a child. KCC’s view is that any adult living in
that house has a responsibility to get the children to school). The fine is not issued by school
but by KCC attendance service. The attendance service regularly visits to look at the registers
and monitor each pupil’s attendance.

What do we mean by unauthorised? Any absence that is not authorised by the school is an
unauthorised absence. Examples of this may be: holidays, days off at the beginning or end of
terms to extend a holiday, days off because of birthdays, any absence for which the school has
not received a written explanation within a week of the date of absence.

When will an absence be authorised? For visits to the doctors or emergency dentist (routine
visits to the dentist should be made after school or in the holidays), visits to open days at other
schools, music exams etc. However if it is suspected that a false claim of illness is made in
order to get an authorised absence a doctor’s letter will be requested.If in doubt whether an absence is authorised or unauthorised please speak to us. If for any reason you feel there are exceptional circumstances for a holiday to be authorised you must write to the governing body, via the Headteacher, using the form in the school entrance foyer.

izzyishappilybusy Fri 18-Jan-13 17:28:15

If they are going to start fining us for being late I'm dead in the water.

I have real issues with ds refusing for go to school (there are reasons) and he is late nearly every day.

I refuse to leave him crying at the classroom door.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 18-Jan-13 17:31:04

I don't think that the KCC are acting legally. The Education Act clearly states it is the responsibility of the parent to provide an education for their children. This can be outsourced to a school or otherwise.
I would argue they were receiving an education and any fine is the responsibility of the parent not another adult.

ajandjjmum Fri 18-Jan-13 17:37:33

We chose to take the DC away from school for a few days just before the end of the summer term - they were actually back for the final couple of days. It was for family reasons that we thought were important - one school was fine about it, the other a bit iffy - and it was totally the opposite way to what we expected.

DH went and saw both heads and explained the circumstances and our reasoning. We were asked to put it in writing, and they approved.

If I were you OP, before you go and see the Head, I would spend some time finding out about 'educational' trips that you will undertake with the DC, and I think someone's earlier suggestion of a scrapbook is a great idea!

izzyishappilybusy Fri 18-Jan-13 17:39:24

I don't get how a penal notice can be back dated per session.

I've read the link from below and it looks like £60 per notice to me.

Its just going to make foreign holidays the province of the well off.

lljkk Fri 18-Jan-13 17:39:45

I think you need to chat to your school, informally, OP.

I've not had trouble taking mine out for 2-3 weeks, once every 4 years, to see family who live 13 hours flight away. We don't really go on holiday, otherwise.

ivykaty44 Fri 18-Jan-13 20:51:17

Recognising the issues?

Schools may wish to take account of the following when making judgements about requests for extended visits:


¨A visit involving family overseas can have an entirely different significance to the notion of a “holiday”
¨Visits may be an important part of a child’s identity and cultural links as he/she grows up
¨Parents may feel that the reason for their visit outweighs the disruption to their child’s education. Perhaps maintaining family links has a greater significance and pressure in different societies
¨It is often very difficult for ethnic minority families to maintain links during circumstances of family bereavements or sickness of relatives, especially when long distances and high prices are involved

Acknowledging the above issues should allow for a more positive and constructive dialogue with parents.

found the above in this

I can remember my father being granted 6 weeks leave from work as he worked within a large mixed group of Indians who where allowed 6 weeks holiday to go home every 4 years, apparently at the time it was not allowed to prevent them from going, my dad wanted to visit australia and visit his uncle and so was also allowed the time every four years.

i have no idea legally where the local authority stands in trying to prevent visiting family overseas. But would take a guess that the way the above is worded as some bearing on that - just a hunch

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