Leave declined for wedding....

(179 Posts)
eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 17:08:37

Oh dear! My husbands brother is getting married in Feb (on a Friday), been planned 2 years, hub is best man & DD is bridesmaid. just moved up to year3 at a new school so did the right thing & applied for authorized day off......declined & also intimated that an application to fine us will be made if we go!! I'm so stuck......can anyone help/advise/guide us for this pls???

Llareggub Fri 04-Oct-13 17:10:29

Is there an appeal process?

CaptainSweatPants Fri 04-Oct-13 17:10:56

Shame the wedding wasn't planned for half term

Bill dh's brother when the fine comes

CecyHall Fri 04-Oct-13 17:11:07

Check with your local authority- we got a default 'no' letter that suggested a fine but when I actually looked into it the LEA only fine if 10 sessions are missed (so five days).

The school then send it was a standard letter.

I think all leave is declined under these stupid new rules.

CecyHall Fri 04-Oct-13 17:12:33

Ours still won't be authorised absence but I'm not overly fussed to be honest as long as no fine.

outtolunchagain Fri 04-Oct-13 17:12:50

I would go , it's her Uncles wedding and she is part of the wedding party and her father is best man .In years to come the memories will mean far more than one measly fine.I think you will just have to treat it as part of the cost of attending the wedding .

I thought at first you were a teacher who had had a leave request declined. Ridiculous if it's your daughter! Surely it counts as special circumstances especially if she's a bridesmaid. What are they going to miss in yr3?

bundaberg Fri 04-Oct-13 17:13:01

urgh, how annoying. coudl you make an appt to speak with the head and explain it in a bit more detail?

I would be asking the governors and the head why the wedding of a close family member, at which dd has a role in the ceremony and which has been planned long before the change in rules, is not being considered 'exceptional'. Then I would forward their reply to my MP. This is absurd.

LIZS Fri 04-Oct-13 17:16:54

Why pick a Friday, and then expect children to be there confused ? Weekday weddings are almost as annoying as those abroad. Feels as if you have to go through some sort of selection process to discover how values you enough to take a day off. Is it local enough she could come alter ?

zippey Fri 04-Oct-13 17:21:46

I don't have any experience in this, but I would ask to see the person who made the decision. Its often harder to turn someone down when you are speaking to them face to face.

I would feel annoyed but don't show that. I take it her attendance is generally good in school?

Chocotrekkie Fri 04-Oct-13 17:26:44

I had this with my sisters wedding. Asked for the day and it was turned down.
Sent in a note the next day saying that they will not be in school for those days.

Head was perfectly happy with this and asked kids all about it when they came back and they did "show and tell" with their flowers in class etc.

The school just have to be seen to say no.

Retropear Fri 04-Oct-13 17:27:09

Utterly ridiculous!shock

You are kidding me.

A day at school is more worthy than your uncle's wedding,celebrating with family and being a bridesmaid.

You have to go there is no question then you write a letter to county threatening to take it further if you get a bill.What are poor people supposed to do,not go to family weddings?hmm

zippey Fri 04-Oct-13 17:29:00

Ask the decision maker to post in the AIBU section here and see what results they get!

We have nearly the same situation. DD is a bridesmaid, DH a groomsman etc for SIL's wedding. We asked the head and he said 'of course you can go, leave the paperwork to me and have a lovely time'. Thank goodness for sanity.

BettyBotter Fri 04-Oct-13 17:33:31

This happened to us (family reunion not a wedding though). So our dcs mysteriously developed D and V for the day. No problems, no questions asked.

Honestly, it's crazy but schools would genuinely prefer you to fake dc illness than request term time holiday because they get held accountable at Ofsted if they've agreed to leave, but nobody bats an eye at an odd day or 2 of sickness.

eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 17:50:27

Thanks everyone. I did speak to the Head but there is NO appeals process, his decision is final. I realize its the new rules etc but what am I to do??? I can't control a wedding date! The couple picked the day (Fri) as is a few thousand cheaper (they have no children I might add!!). I don't want to encourage my girl to fib so have left her out of the angst! Her attendance is about 95% (she has athma & other medical conditions that mean she is more prone to illness) but DD is at school EVERY day she can be!! We abide by all school rules, go to open days & fairs, coffee mornings and activelt encourage "a bit more" when we do home work (in addition to lerning we mke with cooking, science etc!)
What is AIBU pls??? Not a regular user so has bypassed me!! Thanks smile

tiggytape Fri 04-Oct-13 18:06:10

The rules are fairly new so a lot of people who could do this last term or last year may find that it would not be authorised now. Heads don't have much discretion in practice.

It doesn't mean you cannot go but you may get a fine. If you do it will be £120 (£60 each for you and DH). It is still quite rare for people to get fined - most just live with the unauthorised absence in the register which as a one off won't do anything. You just have to factor in you might get the fine and hope you don't.

TheGervasuttiPillar Fri 04-Oct-13 18:09:46

Your request sounds very reasonable and the sort of absence that should be authorised by the school.

AIUI, the fines are not automatic, the school has to request the LEA to levy the fine.

I would go to the wedding, not pay the fine and got to court.

I bet the magistrate will not be best pleased with the school. Again, from the guidance that I have read, this absence should not result in a fine and I would hope that the magistrate would take the same view.

tiggytape Fri 04-Oct-13 18:21:08

The school has nothing to do with the fines - it isn't up to them and it isn't issued by them. It is a LA decision.

Very bad advice to go to court. You would lose and end up paying a lot more.
See this wedding case last year (and it was his mother getting married!)

HedgeHogGroup Fri 04-Oct-13 18:26:16

As a HT I would suggest a mysterious 24 hour bug. Its easier on everyone - school don't have to fine you (we don't want to - we don't even see the money) and you get your time off

eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 18:28:21

Head was up front & said its up to him to put forward for fine and that he would do so. Trouble is, wedding is some 300 miles away so need to go night before (after school!) & just miss the one day (fri). It was mentioned it "could be arranged outside school term time" but actually it couldn't as I have no control over another persons nuptials!! We did mention to BIL but their choice was the Friday sad. I have never gone against a school rule before (I am the person who will get caught, in any transgression of any kind!!), the wedding is costing us a fortune in travel, accomaodation, bridesmaid dress, best man outfit etc etc....money is tight & I am so worried but at the same time do we cancel last minute & just let hub go by himself????

TheGervasuttiPillar Fri 04-Oct-13 18:29:26


That was more holiday than wedding (11 days off etc.)

" it isn't up to them and it isn't issued by them. It is a LA decision."

Maybe that varies from LEA to LEA, but here in Derbyshire the fines are not automatic. The guidance I have has an example of a family wedding where the child is playing a role as the sort of absence that would be authorised.

MistressIggi Fri 04-Oct-13 18:34:48

View the fine as part of the cost of the wedding. Really surprised that the head thinks she should miss uncle's wedding (and would one of you have to stay at home too with her?). I wouldn't have been surprised at him "having" to refuse, but surprised he actually thinks this is reasonable.

DameDeepRedBetty Fri 04-Oct-13 18:35:25

AIBU is a part of Mumsnet called Am I Being Unreasonable?

Posters ask contentious questions, and sometimes get ermm... robust replies.

Those new to Mumsnet are strongly advised to lurk only in AIBU for at least the first six months grin

It's probably the main reason we sometimes get called the Nest of Vipers.

clam Fri 04-Oct-13 18:36:45

Do NOT cancel! This is bloody ridiculous and your Head Teacher is a complete bastard if, as he implies, he can choose whether you're fined or not and he's going for it.

As these rules are new in, it's unclear at this stage exactly how they're going to pan out in terms of fines. However, if you say she's ill, they'd be hard-pushed to prove you a liar (especially as it's half term following and who's to know how long she's "ill" for?) If you prefer not to lie, then just go anyway and take the rap IF it comes to it - although I reckon it won't. (come to it)

<<am a teacher>>

I would go anyway, phone in sick on the Thursday with vomiting, most schools have a 48 rule about that so your DD wont need to lie about not going to the wedding.

Damnautocorrect Fri 04-Oct-13 18:41:08

Don't cancel, don't lie (the kids are bound to stitch you up) just say they won't be in, sorry its non negotiable.
Others are right they can't authorise any absence any more.

Beamur Fri 04-Oct-13 18:42:18

DD's school have told us that all leave in term time will be declined as they are no longer allowed to authorise it.
Whilst I'm generally an upstanding member of the community I too would suggest a sudden onset of vomiting...

skyeskyeskye Fri 04-Oct-13 18:46:39

I would go. Sadly the headmaster is entitled to make that decision, although I think he is being very mean.

You may get a fine, but ultimately the decision on the fine is made by the Local Authority not by the headteacher, so the LEA may decide that the circumstances are exceptional. I think they only prosecute if the fine is not paid.

So if the LEA don't think it is exceptional circumstances, then it may cost you £60, or £120 (our school is £60 per parent per child).

PuppyMonkey Fri 04-Oct-13 18:46:40

My mum recently died and while she was still ill in hospital my sister tired to book a Friday and a Monday off school for her DD so that the family could come up and visit her from London area to Nottingham. School refused permission for her to see her dying granny.sad

ivykaty44 Fri 04-Oct-13 18:53:32

Very bad advice to go to court. You would lose and end up paying a lot more.

you might not lose though and then if a case was won it would make other take the cases to court for a ruling

Op can't decide when someone else is getting married, it is for one day (not 11 days as in the story) It is a family event and family should be valued.

eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 18:55:20

Oh in this situation I would have no hesitation at all....DD would be aout of school in a flash!!

NoComet Fri 04-Oct-13 18:57:54

Go and dare them to fine you.

Next time don't ask just send in a sickness note.

The new rules are insane.

2cats2many Fri 04-Oct-13 18:58:09

Of course you should go. The worst that can happen is a £60 fine.

MrsS1980 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:03:18

If your daughter's attendance is normally 95% or above it is unlikely you will be fined. A fixed penalty notice is issued in consultation with the EWO and the school. You need 10 (half day) sessions absence to FPN. I imagine this is a standard letter that is sent in response to requests for holidays.

Enjoy the day and make sure you keep her attendance up the rest of the year.

eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 19:04:05

The fine is actually per person, per child, per session (1 day=2 sessions) ergo the fine would be £240!! On top of £300 for outfit hire/BM dress, another £230 for 2 nights in a chain hotel, £150 for fuel...........sigh

shebird Fri 04-Oct-13 19:06:03

I am in the same boat OP. My family live abroad and I requested 2 days to attend my nephews christening which has been declined. This is a very important family occasion which I want my DCs to be part of. My niece passed away a few years ago just 2 weeks after her 1st birthday and it was a very sad time for the family. My eldest DD was deeply affected by the loss of her baby cousin so I feel that it is very important that she sees her new cousin and shares in the joy in his arrival. I am still going to take them out but I am too upset right now to even discuss possible fines with the HT.

offwhitecurtains Fri 04-Oct-13 19:07:22

Have you checked with the LA to see when fines kick in (it should be on the website).

louby44 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:14:50

I would say she is sick. I'm a teacher and one of my 2 DS attends my school. His dad and I are divorced and he has booked a holiday for Oct half term for him and our 2 DS. They go on the Thursday lunchtime before the kids finish on the Friday.

I'm in a really awkward position. A request for 2 days holiday will be denied and there has been much discussion about it in the staffroom about other families who have asked and been denied extra holiday.

I'm just going to say he's sick. I know this is awful and I feel terrible but my ex husband hasn't taken them away for 3 years and he couldn't afford it if he went sat-sat, the Thursday flight makes it more affordable. Plus it fits in with his shift pattern!


marriedinwhiteisbackz Fri 04-Oct-13 19:22:28

Unfortunately this is why I have less and less respect for the teaching profession. The heads and the teachers know this is wrong yet they do nothing to speak up about and to help effect change and common sense.

In the old days a letter was sent out by our dc's head to say that she would not be authorising absence during the weeks before the Christmas and Summer holidays. Several parents wrote in response to say they entirely respected her stance but expected learning to take place until the end of term if that was the case and didn't want their dc to spend their time watching videos and playing rounders. Went a bit quiet after that.

Remind him of his decision in relation to unauthorised absence if the school takes strike action. That in my opinion is far more significant in the context of unauthorised absence and impact on learning.

pointythings Fri 04-Oct-13 19:24:35

The only message this insane rule sends out is that honesty does not pay. I avoid term time holidays like the plague, but if there should ever be a major family event, my DDs will just fall ill - I will not even bother to ask. Is that what the powers that be want to encourage?

louby44 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:25:39

Please remember that this is a Dept of Education ruling. The schools/head teachers are just doing what they have been told. They CANNOT do anything about this.

AnneElliott Fri 04-Oct-13 19:25:41

Just say that she had d&v on Thursday. All schools have the 48 hour thing so she doesn't have to keep quiet about the wedding.

FWIW I have never requested leave from the school. The very few times I have taken DS out I have done if first and told them later. You're the parent so you make the decisions. Ridiculous new rules in my view.

Beamur Fri 04-Oct-13 19:26:11

If schools are being told this is how they have to treat absences their hands are tied. It's no good attacking the teachers or the heads when the dictat is coming from elsewhere.

Hassled Fri 04-Oct-13 19:28:14

I do feel the need to point out that the new rules come from the Department of Education and NOT from the schools. Headteachers used to have some discretion - now they don't. No authorised absences except in "exceptional circumstances", and no holidays whatsoever. Wedding of a parent might count, wedding of other family member won't.

So save your wrath for the DfE, not the school.

Hassled Fri 04-Oct-13 19:28:38

X post with many - sorry

shebird Fri 04-Oct-13 19:30:11

It is a sad situation that parents are being forced to lie and even worse to have to ask their DCs to lie.

clam Fri 04-Oct-13 19:30:39

"Unfortunately this is why I have less and less respect for the teaching profession. The heads and the teachers know this is wrong yet they do nothing to speak up about and to help effect change and common sense."

What the FUCK do you think these strikes are about, then???? angry angry angry

marriedinwhiteisbackz Fri 04-Oct-13 19:37:11

Their terms and conditions of employment.

Hassled Fri 04-Oct-13 19:37:35

I think in the Big List of Things Headeteachers Would Like to Raise With Gove, authorised absence would come fairly low down in terms of priorities.

louby44 Fri 04-Oct-13 19:46:45

My Head has said in the past 5 weeks she has spent more time dealing with the holiday situation and the problem parking we have around our small rural school than she has doing anything else!

It is ridiculous. We are TOLD what to teach. We are TOLD that Ofsted are coming tomorrow. We are TOLD no more authorised holidays. We are TOLD we don't deserve a pay rise. We are TOLD we have to work longer and have less pension! we are also TOLD we are crap at our jobs by many parents!

THAT is why thousands 'striked' last week. We have no power.

Direct your anger at Mr Gove not the hardworking teacher!

Sorry its Friday and I need a glass of wine! wine cheers!

clam Fri 04-Oct-13 19:48:03

My point is this bit: " yet they do nothing to speak up about and to help effect change and common sense."

I think you'll find that we ARE speaking up about things we disagree with, yet are being pilloried and bashed from pillar to post.

PurpleGirly Fri 04-Oct-13 19:49:13

Married - the decisions on this have NOTHING to do with teachers or schools - it is another Gove idea.

The odd day is fine but having two weeks off (at high school) is a nightmare. I am in tomorrow to do catch up with 15 pupils who have missed doing assessments due to being on holidays, and can't stay behind after school due to commitments ...

OP I can't see the LEA going through with the fine - schools are only doing what they are told to ...

prh47bridge Fri 04-Oct-13 19:50:30

Just for clarity, schools can still approve days off in exceptional circumstances. This can include holidays. Contrary to what some are saying this is still entirely at the head's discretion.

Fines are not at the head's discretion. Your LA will have a code of conduct which will lay down the circumstances in which a fine can be levied. I don't know of any LA that allows a fine for a single absence. If a school issues a fixed penalty notice contrary to the LA's code of conduct the LA will withdraw it.

The only change in the rules is that they no longer refer to children being allowed up to 10 days holiday in special circumstances. Unfortunately a growing number of parents treated this as a right to 10 days holiday in term time each year. Some head teachers felt unable to refuse because of the loose wording in the regulations. Many teachers and head teachers wanted the regulations tightened up to stop this. Indeed, many head teachers who are claiming they have no discretion know full well that they do indeed still have discretion. They are fed up with the way some parents abused the system and want to clamp down. Claiming that they have no discretion is a nice way of putting the blame on someone else.

eleanorrubysmummy Fri 04-Oct-13 19:57:47

Oh don't misunderstand me....I am not angry at the Head/school or indeed the Gov, I'm just frustrated I am unable to take any responsibility for my childs life experience too. I could understand it if we permitted her to just "miss days" but we never have (and we don't have odd days off work either!!). I am rubbish at fibbing, won't expect my DD to be complicit in fibbing either......I think, all things considered, I will probably just go & risk the fine. However, I won't ever ask again if the need did arise (we don't have holidays away due to finances so that is never an issue anyway!). One request in now 3 years of schooling, for an exceptional day! Thanks everyone!

marriedinwhiteisbackz Fri 04-Oct-13 20:10:07

I am very pleased teachers are told what to teach. I was a child in the 60s and 70s and remember having a teacher in my last year at the newly opened school - the one with the bean bags and the lack of walls - who spent an entire year teaching us art techniques. No tables, no spellings, no maths, no English. It was the worst year in my school life. The rationale - oh well you've all done your 11+ so you can all unwind now.

Funnily enough it took me a year and a half to catch up at the grammar school.

They complain because they are told what to teach. When they weren't they didn't teach; that's why the rules had to change. Ofsted are coming tomorrow - quite right. Ofsted need to see what really goes on - not what has been staged managed and isn't it less stressful to have no notice visits than to fret about them for three weeks - also means the school doesn't have the chance to arrange a trip for the big trouble makers .

I am in the LGPS. I pay about 6-7%; my employers pay about 14%. It is one of the best pensions in this country. It is NOT AS GOOD AS THE TEACHERS' PENSION SCHEME. I am very pleased to be a member of a fantastic scheme that is not as good as the TPS. I cannot retire until I am 66. That is the law and it affects everybody not just teachers.

Branleuse Fri 04-Oct-13 20:17:40

just take her out on the day. Say shes poorly.

youve given them warning. She doesnt belong to them

Hassled Fri 04-Oct-13 20:21:36

prh47 - I'm not sure I agree. The amendments to the 2006 regs remove references to holidays. DfE says: "The amendments make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances." - it's not clear to me whether those "exceptional circumstances" could include a holiday.

lljkk Fri 04-Oct-13 20:24:02

This place was a Nest of Vipers long before AIBU established.
this new policy is going to lead to some interesting tabloid headlines.

PeppiNephrine Fri 04-Oct-13 20:26:39

People actually go along with this shit? Go to the wedding, if they fine you tell them; bite me.

birdybear Fri 04-Oct-13 20:34:08

How can it be right that each gaseous is fined for each session? So single parent families pay half what dual parent families do? How can that be right?

MushroomSoup Fri 04-Oct-13 21:29:10

I'm a primary Head. New guidelines state that we can authorise leave in exceptional circumstances, but NEVER for a holiday.

prh47bridge Fri 04-Oct-13 21:31:06

Hassled - Under the regulations it is at the sole discretion of the head teacher to decide whether or not a request qualifies as "exceptional circumstances". They are perfectly at liberty to decide that a particular holiday qualifies as "exceptional circumstances".

Flossiechops Fri 04-Oct-13 21:45:12

Parents are now just going to lie about it aren't they? Just like I did a couple of weeks ago - big family celebration booked for a long weekend (dc had to miss Friday and Monday). This was booked months before the new rule was introduced, I knew the school wouldn't authorise it so I rang in and said both dc were poorly. I hate lying but there's no way I could afford the fine and I wasn't going to miss out on the weekend away. Parents are being backed into a corner much like the teachers I suspect. It's not nice to ask dc to lie though and now I know the new rules I won't be doing it again.

tiggytape Fri 04-Oct-13 21:52:21

birdy - each person with parental responsibility for a child has a legal duty to ensure that child attends school on all the days they don't have authorised leave for. If they fail to do so, it is an offence committed by each person that has a legal duty over that child.

The parents don't have to be married or living together to have parental responsibilty.

musicalfamily Fri 04-Oct-13 21:54:54

In your situation I would frankly just say my child had a headache or a stomach bug.

halfwayupthehill Fri 04-Oct-13 21:55:39

Isn't there still exceptions for religious reasons? Wouldn't attending a wedding, if in church, be a religious thing?
The world has gone mad if parents are fined for attending family weddings.

TheGervasuttiPillar Fri 04-Oct-13 22:01:54

This legislation came into force in last month and I have been discussing it with our board f governors and the LEA.

As a list...

a) Holidays or absences booked (with proof) before parents were aware of the rule change are classed as exceptional. This is the view taken by our local group of schools and endorsed by our LEA.

b) A blanket ban on holidays would be contrary to the intent of the legislation.

c) The legislation uses the word exceptional, the interpretation of this word is for the head.

d) If you consider the width of meaning of the word exceptional, you can see why there is latitude in interpretation: "Being an exception; uncommon." "not usual : unusual or uncommon".

e) Even if the absence were unauthorised, a fine does not automatically follow.

f) The head has to ask the LEA to fine the parents.

If I was the OP, I would write a letter stating all the facts and go to the wedding.

In my school, this absence would be authorised.

loubielou31 Fri 04-Oct-13 22:14:06

Schools don't have to say no automatically to these requests. My DDs are also to be bridesmaids at their Uncles Wedding on the last day of this term, and so need the day off school, it was authorised and the form returned to me the next day.
Exceptional circumstances and once in a life time events like being a bridesmaid are of course fine.
Speak to the head again and then If they still said no then I expect I would say something along the lines of "I have a feeling DD will have a nasty sickness bug on that morning then."
There is no way your DD should miss out on being a Bridesmaid.

Family rituals like this are an enormous part of our cultural identity and a blanket no to requests for absence is just a nonsense.

lljkk Sat 05-Oct-13 08:18:24

@ MushroomSoup: what guidance have you been given, if any, about foreign-national parents? I feel so guilty that my 70yo dad keeps schlepping half way round the world to see us, so I want kids to go see him for a change.. and my many dozens of aunts-uncles-cousins-their children, too. Too far to go just go for just a week or 2 (would spend all of that in jetlag hell), too expensive to go in summer.

There's something about getting DC in touch with their native culture, too (The America you see on TV is not the America I know).

After 2014 I'll have kids constantly in GCSEs & maybe A-levels for 12 yrs, so 2014 is the last window before my grand-mother dies.

There are other reasons that I think matter why & when I want to go & why for so long (14 days off school).

musicalfamily Sat 05-Oct-13 08:39:26

I agree with the foreign national thing, which is exactly where I am at and why we have had to take the odd day - because it is impossible to get flights to exactly coincide with half term breaks and because things just happen where we have to go as a family (and no you can't just go for a weekend if it's a wedding or a funeral as it takes a day there and a day back, and we have had to attend a couple in the 5 years so far).

I will have to think about this one properly, because I am on the edge whether to go and have a discussion with the head about the situation in general (without having to beg every time) or whether I just say the children are ill every time. I am on the fence on this one because to be honest I feel aggrieved I even have to go and do this in the first place, as I see it as an unnecessary and sudden intrusion into our personal life.

juneau Sat 05-Oct-13 08:51:53

Any system which doesn't allow for flexibility or discretion is, IMO, stupid and opens it up to abuse. If the answer to any request for a day off, for whatever reason, is 'no', then parents aren't going to ask - they'll just pull their DC out and say they're ill.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Oct-13 09:45:33

Which is, of course, why the new rules still allow for flexibility and discretion.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 10:59:16

Oh, this is all so very predictable... Whatever prh47bridge says, it was a STUPID thing to change the legislation in the way it was changed. The Government is full of arseholes with no comprehension of human nature whatsoever.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 11:00:51

And the biggest arse of all is in the Department for Education.

D0oinMeCleanin Sat 05-Oct-13 11:08:44

We had exactly this with my Aunt's wedding a few weeks ago. I only wanted the afternoon off as they'd already married in Vegas but were having some kind of ceremony for family on Friday evening in which dd1 would be acting as 'bridesmaid', unfortunately it was out of town so to get there in time and get dd1 ready we had to leave at lunchtime.

We were turned down. When I made an appointment with the school to discuss this the parent advisor told me their hands are tied, they have very strict guidelines now on what they allowed to grant leave for and family weddings are not covered (she showed me the documentation they had been sent and it covers things like holidays for shift workers where the children might otherwise not get family time with both parents, supporting close family through terminal illness or bereavement and a few other things). She then advised me to take them anyway and told me that yes it would go down as unauthorised but unless their attendance falls below 85% no-one will take any notice of one unauthorised absence.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Oct-13 11:30:27

it was a STUPID thing to change the legislation in the way it was changed

After illness, parents taking holidays during term time was the most common cause of absence by far. The problem was growing with more and more parents thinking they had the right to take 10 days holiday each year. Many heads and many teachers were fed up with it but felt (wrongly) that the previous regulations gave them no option but to allow parents to take these holidays regardless of the problems it caused the school and the damage it did to the children's education. Teachers groups and others have been lobbying the DfE for this change for some time.

In reality little has changed. Schools can still approve days off in "exceptional circumstances". Legally that is really no different from the previous provision that schools could give up to 10 days off for holidays in "special circumstances" with additional days in "exceptional circumstances". So why are schools clamping down? Because teachers are fed up with continual absences which disrupt their class.

If you want to blame someone I suggest you blame those parents that abused the previous regulations.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 11:49:02

B*ll*cks. Our school specifically wrote to the DfE saying it DIDN'T want the rules changed. And no, I will not blame parents, what a silly suggestion. I blame government for its silly guidelines and rule changes. If the law hasn't actually changed, then WHY WAS IT BLOODY CHANGED?????

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 11:55:05

What schools ever allowed more than 10 days off at a time? Exceptional was expected to be truly exceptional. Thus changing the wording from "special" to "exceptional" means that now lots of people think ANY leave whatsoever has to be for truly exceptional circumstances and nobody can get their mind around what could be that exceptional that it could possibly be allowed, unless the DfE has told them it is definitely exceptional. I think the ludicrous behaviour of the HT in this instance is a demonstration of the effects of the DfE's and Ofsted's bullying stance on everything - HTs start getting anal about the few things they think they have any control over that tick a few boxes for the powers that be.

ivykaty44 Sat 05-Oct-13 11:56:18

How does a child not present in class cause a disruption to the teacher? I can see it may cause the child problems but not sure how the child causes disruption when not in class.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 11:57:11

You know perfectly well if HTs are advising parents to just go off sick, or to go anyway and not worry about the unauthorised absence that the rules are a stupid farce to do with statistics, not human beings.

5madthings Sat 05-Oct-13 12:02:49

doooin the paperwork she showed you do you know where you can get a copy of it?

We took our four school age away for a week, so five days missed of school as DPs job is shift work and no holiday in school holidays. The schools said to go, have a good time and they wouldn't fine us but they 'technically' couldt authorize it. I do have it in writing that they said go, gave a good holiday! They said it shouldn't be a problem unless attendance falls below 95% and even then the ht would provide our documentation (employers letter etc) and back us up. But ht knows the ewo and said it would be fine as she would understand our circumstances and there are no other issues I'd kids doing well, never late, no other unauthorized absence etc. He said the ewo for our area looks at the whole picture iyswim and its the families with persistent absence/lateness etc they are interested in fining.

It does seem to vary by school and Lea.

Op I would go and hope you don't get fined, would your brother pay the fine if you did? On the basis its his wedding, he wants your child to attend and yet organized it for a school day.

purpleroses Sat 05-Oct-13 12:07:20

Can you not ring on Thursday morning to say that DD has had "slight diarrhoea" so, following the school's strict rules for 48 hours absence being required for vomiting OR diarrhoea, she will need to be off for two days. And then tell no lies about having gone to the wedding. After all, you would probably take her anyway she'd just had a slightly runny tummy. That way she doesn't need to lie, but the school can tick the box for authorised absence. They'll know why you did it, but you're giving them the get out they need to authorise it.

But agree that the head is being quite unreasonable in not classing this as exceptional. Mine both had a day off last year for a wedding (one at secondary school) which got classed as exceptional circumstances (not family holiday, which they don't allow).

Viviennemary Sat 05-Oct-13 12:10:38

That is really bad. You are being penalised for being honest. A lot of people would just say their DC is ill. I wouldn't pay the fine. I hope someone takes this nonsense to the European Court of Human Rights. Which says people are entitled to a family life. And a wedding is part of the celebration of family life. Make a test case. Tell the Head this is what you will be doing. I'd love to do this but not sure I'd have the guts to!

fuckwittery Sat 05-Oct-13 12:28:21

Our school would definitely authorise this, particularly as it is a catholic school and celebration of a wedding is a holy sacrament, it would be considered really important to be at a family wedding.
i was authorised a day this term for my DD to watch her aunt compete in an international sport for GB, for a one off event, had a lovely note from the headmistress saying this was exceptional, what an inspiration for my dd and please come and tell her class all about it when she got back. The aunt's own son had 3 days authorised as he needed to travel to the event with his mum.
I'd write to the LA if your headmaster refers.
I can see why the mum in the link posted was fined, as shed arranged her own wedding abroad meaning her child missed 11 days of school, something in her control as her wedding and excessive time off. This is not in your control and its for one day.
There clearly IS flexibility in what the head teachers can authorise as exceptional demonstrated by the posters on this thread saying it would be authorised in their schools.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Oct-13 12:55:44

rabbitstew - Your school may have lobbied against the change but many schools, teachers organisations, etc. lobbied in favour.

The problem was not that schools were authorising more than 10 days at a time. The problem was that parents believed they had a right to take their child out of school for 10 days for a holiday. Many head teachers felt (wrongly) that the loose wording in the old regulations meant they had no option but to allow those holidays. They therefore wanted the regulations changed to make it clear that parents do not have any right to a term time holiday.

D0oinMeCleanin Sat 05-Oct-13 13:04:08

I don't know 5madthings, maybe ask your school. This was paperwork sent to the school from our local LEA setting out and explaining the new rules.

The shift workers thing is a bit confusing and open to interpretation from what I gathered. It is, I think, mainly aimed at public sector workers and people who work away from home and should only be applied if the child might not otherwise get to spend time with both parents together. She did tell me that DH and I could possibly take advantage of it if we need anymore holidays as I work nights and weekends and he works day shifts, but my boss would have to provide evidence as to why I could not be granted holidays out of term time.

It is applied differently from school to school, my sister was granted authorised leave from her kid's school for the wedding, as they told her they'd decided that family time was "exceptionally important". Same town, so I assume the same LEA.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 15:11:11

You see, my problem with the change, prh47bridge, is that if the government already knew that HTs have a problem interpreting words in legislation, then it seems very foolish of the DfE to have not only taken out references to holidays but also changed the word "special" to "exceptional," when "exceptional" was a word used in the previous legislation to indicate "almost never." Now we are in a situation where some headteachers interpret the legislation (wrongly) to mean they must almost never, ever allow parents to take their children out of school, even for an afternoon, even if to any right thinking individual, they have good reason to want to. I fail to see in what way that is an improvement - it has gone from letting a minority of parents abuse a situation to treating a huge swathe of the population as imbeciles incapable of understanding what is good for their own children.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 15:13:00

And what is more, the result will not be a huge improvement of academic standards, but an dramatic increase in the number of people in this country who choose to ignore what petty officials tell them.

cathpip Sat 05-Oct-13 15:27:46

My ds has just had 3 days leave authorised for a family wedding, it's 270 miles away so we are going down the day before and coming back the day after. The head teacher agreed straight away as it was in her words "exceptional circumstances". You have done the honesty route, I would now lie and say she has had diarrhoea in the night!

swingofthings Sat 05-Oct-13 16:04:48

My understanding is that it is still up to the Head to declare the absence to the LA for them to issue the fine. So it might be that he won't authorise the absence (as stated, because it could open gates for other reasons), but that doesn't mean he will report it for you to be fined.

I would ask this question and if he confirms the fine, i would definitely go for the illness bug. How will they prove that she didn't suffer from one? After all, it could very well happen...

prh47bridge Sat 05-Oct-13 17:32:08

Now we are in a situation where some headteachers interpret the legislation (wrongly) to mean they must almost never, ever allow parents to take their children out of school

No, we are now in a situation where most head teachers correctly interpret the regulations to mean they must almost never allow parents to take their children out of school. That was the intention of the previous regulations when they were introduced by Alan Johnson. It was never intended to give parents the right to take term time holidays. Even under the previous regulations an afternoon off for any reason other than a holiday could only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

teacherwith2kids Sat 05-Oct-13 17:56:23

"How does a child not present in class cause a disruption to the teacher? I can see it may cause the child problems but not sure how the child causes disruption when not in class."

Ivy, imagine that Child A was absent on a day that you taught the first lesson in a series about fractions, a critical lesson on which the next 5 lessons depend.

Next day, teacher has to teach the rest of the class the next lesson (and differentiate it for different abilities ) AND catch the child up who wasn't there. Then multiply by 5 lessons, because that's how many lessons there are in many school days..

Under the old system, where heads found it hard not to authorise time off, I would quite often have lesson plans that had several children each lesson needing 'catch up' some of a day's work, some of a couple of day's, some of a week's, some of a fortnight's. In some lessons, not so much of an issue. In maths, where everything tends to build on one another in a 'spiral' fashion, much more so.

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 18:07:35

The reply to my request to travel abroad for 2 days to attend my nephews christening was 'the school is not permitted to authorise holidays in term time'. Well this is not technically a 'holiday' it is a religious and family celebration. So is our head playing it safe and just saying no to everything? I believe she has also refused a child permission to attend the funeral of a close relative. It seems unfair if some heads are interpreting the rules differently. IMO 'holidays' should only be in exceptional circumstances (e.g parents who work shifts etc.) and other days off for special events ( family celebrations abroad, weddings, funerals) should be assessed on a case my case basis.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 19:14:54

prh47bridge - it was NEVER the case that HTs should almost never, ever allow children out of school. Essential medical appointments were allowed, given that the NHS is also a very important organisation that can't go fitting itself around school days and they are quite frequent. Then there are things like family weddings and funerals... it's not as if they almost never, ever happen, just that they don't happen often to each person doing the dying or marrying... Then there are the important family events (rites of passage) that just so happen to be in Australia, or India, or the family that just so happen not to have been seen in years and this is a first and only request for a child who has an excellent attendance record. Then there are the sick relatives who haven't died, yet that the family are desperate to see before they die. Then there are the genuine cases of families who cannot holiday in school holidays.... Then there are the music exams, or the important sporting events or West End stage shows that some children get involved in... No bl**dy way is it almost never, ever the case that children used to be allowed out of school. There are loads of reasons that many people would consider valid on a case by case basis, bearing in mind the child's normal attendance record and any other relevant issues.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 19:20:30

And yet the result of the change of legislation is that some schools seem to have become anal about everything, not just "holidays." How is that the case if the law has not really changed?...

Jellypudmum Sat 05-Oct-13 19:27:28

Child in my class has authorised absence for family wedding for 4 days next week. If head persists try govs or lea directly?

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 19:36:25

I find it quite fascinating that the justification for the current farce going on in schools over letting children out of school is apparently a result of HTs asking for the legislation to be changed, but actually it wasn't really changed at all, it's just that it used to be misinterpreted and now it is more clear... grin Clear as mud and as clear as a HT specifically suggesting to parents that they take their children out on unauthorised absences, because behind Ofsted and the government's back, they actually approve of them, but daren't make it official, because it's "no longer" allowed. gringrin

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 19:37:46

And actually, it is allowed, because apparently even though the government intended "exceptional" to mean almost never, ever, it doesn't have to mean that if the HT doesn't want it to. Ha de ha, bloody ha, ha.

prh47bridge Sat 05-Oct-13 19:45:01

rabbitstew - The regulations regarding a child appearing in a West End show (or any other performance) have not changed. The school should still grant leave of absence provided the LA has given the appropriate licence.

The situation regarding educational activities (which includes sporting activities) has also not changed. A pupil must not be marked absent if they are on an approved educational activity. Music exams would normally fall under this heading.

For the other situations you mention the new regulations are an improvement.

Under the old regulations:

- Leave of absence for holidays up to 10 days if there are special circumstances
- Leave of absence for holidays of more than 10 days in an academic year only in exceptional circumstances
- Absence due to sickness or any unavoidable cause permitted without any requirement for leave of absence
- Absence on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parent belongs permitted without any requirement for leave of absence
- Absence for any other reason not permitted. This is probably not what was intended (and it certainly isn't what actually happened) but it is what the regulations said

Under the new regulations:

- Leave of absence for any reason in exceptional circumstances
- Absence due to sickness or any unavoidable cause permitted without any requirement for leave of absence
- Absence on any day exclusively set apart for religious observance by the religious body to which the parent belongs permitted without any requirement for leave of absence

So NHS appointments are still permitted (sickness or unavoidable cause). Some of the other events you list should have been refused under a strict interpretation of the old regulations but can now be validly granted in exceptional circumstances.

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 19:48:35

jellypudmum seems like the word 'exceptional' is being interpreted differently by HTs meaning with some saying no to any request for leave for weddings etc. and some saying yes. This means some family's are being discriminated against by being penalised for taking time off when others have leave authorised for the same reason and are not penalised. How is this fair?

Phineyj Sat 05-Oct-13 20:00:21

I think if you book a wedding for a week day you have to accept some loved ones will not be there - that is the price of saving the money. It is annoying to have to take a day of annual leave (or expose yourself to a fine, like the OP) for the sake of someone else's budget.

With 13 weeks of school holiday a year I can see why heads have to be firm.

I think people with close family abroad have more of a point, however.

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 20:14:46

Phineyj What about the importance of family and the right to a family life? Not everything in life can be planned to happen within the 13 weeks school holidays as there is a whole other world outside of education. Many couples getting married do not have children and so are not even aware this is an issue when deciding a date. Most families only have a few rare occasions that they would want time off for, these are special important times and families should not be penalised for this. I am sure a teacher would be allowed leave to attend a family funeral.

ravenAK Sat 05-Oct-13 20:25:57

Ring school on the day & explain that dd has come down with pronuba & won't be in.

(tis Latin for bridesmaid wink).

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 20:35:08

prh47bridge - who has defined what an "approved educational activity" is? Or is this at the discretion of the HT? grin Maybe some HTs would only regard taking part in the Olympics as exceptional, whereas others would regard watching the ATP tennis finals as an exceptional educational opportunity for an aspiring tennis player?!...

Perhaps the DfE should have made more effort communicating with parents, so as to avoid a mangling of their intentions by random HTs.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 20:37:38

So under the old legislation, you couldn't even attend your own mother's funeral????

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 20:46:14

Anyone know how religious observance is defined? Do weddings, funerals etc. come under religious observance?confused

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 21:17:48

I don't think all weddings and funerals count as religious observances - even atheists get married in registry offices and have to have something done with their bodies after they've died...

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 21:24:26

But if you are a particular faith and the service is being held in a church of that faith then surely this is observing your religion.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 21:26:30

How about a day trip to London to visit a special exhibition at a museum? Is that an "approved educational activity"? What about a trip to the US to do a tour around the White House and visit the Smithsonian? Are these less educational than doing your grade 2 piano exam, or just too time consuming/too much like a holiday/too much like something that ought to be able to be done in school holidays (but actually can't always)?

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 21:27:57

Personally, I wouldn't view attending my own mother's funeral as being primarily about religious observance... largely because I would be doing it for personal need, not because my religion told me to.

mizu Sat 05-Oct-13 21:31:15

Have read this with interest as my sister is getting married in November on a Thursday and I haven't asked the school yet - yikes!!

I have 2 DDs who are going to be flower girls and I suppose I ought to go and talk to the head mistress...........

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 21:33:29

It's crazy that this legislation is even making parents define if attending the funereal of a family member is an exceptional circumstance or religious observance. There should be no questions it's just human decency that someone should say goodbye to a loved one or celebrate their marriage

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 21:36:35

Human decency is not an exceptional circumstance (I hope). Computer says no.

TheIncidentalGoat Sat 05-Oct-13 21:46:48

Just to correct a post waaayyy down the thread. The fine is per parent per child per offence (not session) so is not a multiple of the days taken.

The offence is failure to secure regular attendance and in most LAs you would be issued with a warning notice to improve attendance before getting fined.

teacherwith2kids Sat 05-Oct-13 21:52:14

DD's school is very clear. WATCHING a sporting (or e.g. dancing or music) occasion is not authorised. Taking part in a sporting (or e.g. dancing or music) event is allowed IF it is overseen by appropriate authorising body - so music exam taked under auspices or ABRS or Trinity is fine, as is a dance festival organised by that governing body, but a disco run by the neighbour is not.

DD has authorisation to take part in local panto (under licence granted by county). Dance exams are marked as authorised absence, whereas the panto is under some other code (DD had 100% attendance the last year she was in the panto, despite missing 10 ays of school).

No, it's not logical. Being in the panto is NOT more educational than watching the Olympics.

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 22:07:17

And by the same token that puts being in a panto above being a bridesmaid and attending a family wedding or visiting a sick family member living abroad

teacherwith2kids Sat 05-Oct-13 22:10:35

Exactly. Definitely not logical - especially as DD's absence, 1 or 2 day blocks spread over more than a month (with very late nights prior to school days), is FAR more disruptive than a block absence of a week or fortnight.

teacherwith2kids Sat 05-Oct-13 22:11:07

(I did raise this concern with him - expecting the answer 'no way can she do it', but he was fine..... bizarre.)

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 22:13:09

Might get DD to audition for panto and head off skiing for a week grin

teacherwith2kids Sat 05-Oct-13 22:15:30

Hmm, I do have to send her licence into school to get the absence authorised so unless you are prepared to go that far, get the part and then pull out, possibly not a goer!

skyeskyeskye Sat 05-Oct-13 22:31:32

Found out today that a parent going to America for three weeks, booked it eleven months ago, only recently asked for time off. If she had asked at the time it would have probably been authorised no problem. Asking in July, was told by headmaster that they can have one week ok, second week is half term, third week will be classed as unauthorised absence. But they will not tell her what the fine might be.

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 22:38:39

Only joking teacherwith2kids if only I could afford a ski trip!

Would love to know how many cases of sickness will be reported on the Friday before half terms and just before Christmas. Perhaps I will post in a few weeks and see what the teachers out there say.

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 22:39:42

So "educational activity" really means, "linked to the unlikely scenario that this child might actually one day become a world famous concert pianist/tennis player/dancer/actor, and has proof that their activity is linked to one of these things," and the authorising body overseeing said event has put a lot of political pressure on the legislators at some point to allow such activities.

ModeratelyObvious Sat 05-Oct-13 22:39:44

If she had asked at the time there is a good chance that wouldn't have been authorised, Skye, as it's ten school days off early on in the school year so attendance would be well below 90% afterwards.

One week is pretty generous and I think July was before the rule change (?)

rabbitstew Sat 05-Oct-13 22:45:17

"Educational activity" also appears to mean, "something which parents are not capable of doing."

shebird Sat 05-Oct-13 22:46:42

And they have a vested interest rabbitstew as these events usually cost money to enter! So time off can be authorised if someone is charging a fee! It just gets even more ludicrous. If attendance is so critical why not put pressure on these bodies to hold exams at weekends or after school?

Llareggub Sat 05-Oct-13 23:18:59

My DCs were taken out of school to wave at a visiting royal. They missed a day of school, along with the rest of the schools in the area, to wave a Union Jack. How come that's allowed? What are the educational benefits?

fatmumjane Sat 05-Oct-13 23:50:14

Our ds was taken out of school for one day last year to go to the Paralympics, we wrote to the head and said we believed it was a once in a lifetime experience. Quite honestly though in your case I'd go for a bad headache day or sickness bug. If the head questions you, point out that your dd will miss no more education than when teachers go on strike for the day...

PastSellByDate Sun 06-Oct-13 07:11:11

Hi eleanorrubysmummy:

This happened at our school - Scottish family having to go to scotland for Uncle's wedding - and they were declined.

Their solution (which I found fantastic) was to ring the LEA and request that they provide 24hr childcare for them whilst they were in Scotland as they were absolutely brand new to this city and didn't feel they could impose on neighbours/ friends who they've only known for 3 weeks and didn't want to pay a fine/ get in trouble with the law.

LEA rang school.

School wrote that they reviewed the application and that indeed due to childcare issues 1 days absence for a family event was an excused absence as long as the child did some make-up work for the class work missed on the day.


prh47bridge Sun 06-Oct-13 08:15:28

To get away from rabbitstew's flights of fantasy, the regulations define an approved educational activity as one which:

- is approved by a person authorised by the proprietor of the school (which normally means it is approved by the head teacher)
- is of an educational nature (which includes work experience and sporting activities)
- is supervised by someone authorised by the proprietor or head teacher

This part of the regulations has not changed at all. If it was an approved educational activity last year it should still be an approved educational activity this year. On other threads rabbitstew has said she wants a return to the pre-September regulations but here she appears to be complaining about an aspect of the pre-September regulations.

I know rabbitstew seems to object to the head teacher having discretion in these matters but I am not sure who else she thinks should decide. If we give discretion to parents we will see a rash of children having days off for educational activities involving a games console and the whole system of trying to ensure children attend school would fall apart. If we give discretion to the LA they are likely to say no to pretty much everything and will certainly be making decisions without being fully aware of the circumstances of each case. If the government (or anyone else) were to lay down a defined list of what is allowed it would give no room for discretion, so a deserving case in a situation that hadn't been considered would miss out. The head teacher is in the right position to be able to make an informed judgement. That doesn't mean they will get it right but I can't see any alternative that would be an improvement.

Llareggub Sun 06-Oct-13 08:36:42

Now that is the clearest argument I have heard yet for the current set of regs! Good analysis.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 09:18:24

Yes, thanks to your clear analysis, prh47bridge, I can see that the situation actually always has been farcical, largely because HTs in the state sector no longer seem to feel they have much real discretion - actions are taken on the basis of ticking Ofsted boxes and meeting arbitrary targets, not dealing with individual human beings. Same problem in the NHS - bloody stupid.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 09:45:40

You don't make an incompetent headteacher competent by telling them which boxes to tick, unfortunately. Instead, you end up in a situation where you keep having to change the focus every few years, because you've forced everyone to focus on one or two things at a time and not let them have a view of the bigger picture, because you don't trust them to be able to cope with the bigger picture (because the incompetent ones can't).

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 09:55:58

And the present incumbent of the DfE has a really weird habit of cutting everyone loose at the same time as being hugely bossy, bullying and prescriptive, which is just another way of ensuring nothing sensible ever gets done, because nobody knows what bizarre plan he'll come up with next or if he has any idea of where he is heading, or if he just wants to recreate the Wild West.

TheIncidentalGoat Sun 06-Oct-13 14:52:44

What would you have as an alternative here rabbitstew?

Do you think the previous legislation was ok or do you think that parents should have the final decision in whether or not they should send their child to school?

How would that work? In the school my children attended it would probably be ok, maybe not too many would take advantage. In the school I work in where I'm already on the brink of sending penalty warnings 5 weeks in, it would be a bloody disaster.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 15:20:03

From the perspective of the school my children are at, there was nothing wrong with the rules as they used to be, so I would leave everything as was. HT used her discretion quite happily and didn't feel there was a problem. The recent change, however, has resulted in all the schools in the area suddenly clamping down on something that didn't appear to be a problem in the first place and putting pressure on the other schools in the area to do the same so that they don't get grief from their parents. Yet NONE of the schools in the area had an attendance problem in the first place. Given that prh47bridge has made it quite clear that HTs under the old rules were entitled to use their discretion to say no to holidays and other absences, I really find it irritating that they were all so weak willed that they felt they could only say no if ALL schools had pressure put on them to say no. It just seems a little bit... cowardly... on the part of HTs that they didn't feel able to use their discretion and instead preferred the blanket-ban or free-for-all options.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 15:26:22

Frankly, it just feels like whole-nation punishment for a few persistent offenders.

teacherwith2kids Sun 06-Oct-13 16:23:53

If it were genuinely a few, rabbit, then the punishment for habitual offenders - which remains as it has been prosecution and fines / imprisonement (and yes, the school I worked in did take a case that far) - would be sufficient.

When it gets to more than half the class taking term-time holidays, with every week plans needing to be made to catch up each of those children so that they can continue to make progress despite absence, then the situation is different.

It really isn't just a few, believe me.

tiggytape Sun 06-Oct-13 16:27:13

rabbit - Your Head will nolonger be able to grant term time holidays in the same way as before (assuming they ever chose to) but everything else is the same i.e. exceptional reasons will be considered for authorised time off school.

Under the old rules HTs had discretion over granting upto 10 days a year for a family holiday. In reality though the discretion wasn't easy or possible to implement because so many parents came to see a 2 week holiday as an absolute right and not something that the HT could ponder over and grant to some but not others.
In practice the old system led to blanket policies too. Our school always had a blanket policy of refusing holidays - it has been in the home-school agreement for at least 8 years. Others had a policy of granting all requests - they could hardly say yes to the top group children and no to the bottom group children or yes to those without illness but no to those who go to an asthma clinic several times a year.

And whilst your entire area may be unique in having responsible parents who don't request cheap holidays and numerous days off - plenty don't. In lots of schools the whole of the Summer term was spent juggling and catching up on work because some of the pupils were missing in any given week. Your HT campaigned against this but plenty wanted the reference to term time holidays removed to stop parents expecting them to be granted.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 16:42:53

Doesn't that just go to show that the majority of HTs don't actually use their discretion? Tbh, if the problem with absence is the effect on attainment, then I don't see why a HT shouldn't look at prior attendance and attainment to help them make a decision. Why can they hardly do that? If the absence in question is not actually going to be detrimental to the child in question's education and is going to be of value as a life experience, then why stop it? Why on earth would you want to treat a 6-year old high achiever with a 100% attendance record to date in the same way as a 10-year old persistent truant with low progress and achievement? Just because you'll be given a hard time over the less clear-cut cases??? As I said, that's just punishing everyone for problems that don't exist everywhere.

teacherwith2kids Sun 06-Oct-13 16:47:11

Hmm. It also cuts the other way, though. The 10 year old you mention might have low progress and attainment because she is also a young carer. If her disabled mum is given the chance to take the children away on holiday but can ONLY afford it during term time, is that a more or less deserving case than when a nice MC child asks to go on a 'special holiday' because it's cheaper in term time, even though they could afford it at full price??

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 16:54:38

teacherwith2kids - yes, it is more of a deserving case (and if I were a HT I would therefore allow it), but you can't have it all ways. If the problem HTs have with constant absence is the effect on teaching, progress and attainment, then they shouldn't stop children going out of school if they will be relatively unaffected, should they?.... Isn't that just punishing them for being middle class?

tiggytape Sun 06-Oct-13 17:06:42

Do you seriously want to divide school communities into the deserving and the undeserving families? The clever children skipping off on holiday whilst the less academic ones have to stay behind?

The ones who are clever and well supported can safely have time off.
The ones who try hard but are less clever can't
The ones who have young carer roles can have time off
The ones whose parents are just feckless or not supportive of school can't
The ones who have no disability can have time off
The ones who have to go to the ashma / diabetes / allergy clinic 5 times a year can't.

Discretion didn't work in many schools. Not because HT's are spineless but because they cannot possibly implement discretion when it would mean children who try hard but struggle have less right to a family holiday than those who are academically gifted. What kind of a school community would that create?

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 17:33:03

It's not deserving and undeserving, though, is it? It's affected by absence and unaffected. I spend a lot of my time telling my ds1 that he may find physiotherapy painful and other children don't have to do it, but in his case he has to. Ds2 in the meantime can skip about happily without having to suffer. Should I force my ds2 to do physio or something else unpleasant, to make it feel better for ds1? What kind of family dynamic would that create?

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 17:36:34

The problem with the new regulations tiggytape is that some HTs view 'exceptional circumstances' as a grey area and so they are just saying no to everything. Our HT is saying no to funerals and weddings in all cases just like the OPs. This is grossly unfair if HTs in other schools are saying yes to similar requests.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 17:42:11

Ironically, I do disapprove of holidays in term time, but would want to know that if a genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came up and my children were young enough that educationally they would be unlikely to suffer in the long term, that I would be allowed to take that opportunity with the headteacher's blessing, rather than with a sneer and a fine. And I would certainly resent being told I wasn't allowed to take my children out of school for an afternoon, for example, in order to go to something of great importance to my family. One afternoon of a child's life is not a long time, particularly not if it's the only time that child has had out of school in several years.

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 17:42:42

Can't schools give parents some credit? I mean how many parents would really take their DCs out of school every year for a two week holiday if they were really struggling and behind. Maybe I just live in lala land.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 17:43:31

Frankly, how dare a headteacher say no to a child going to a funeral when the only reason for doing so is that they say no to everything.

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 17:47:09

Me too rabbitstew. All my family live abroad and these regulations make me anxious that if something happened or if I wanted to attend an important family occasion needed to travel I would be penalised for doing so.

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 17:50:21

I think we are due an OFSTED soon so they are playing it safe and not even applying exceptional circumstances.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Sun 06-Oct-13 18:03:17

I agree that it is a total load of cock. contentiously though, in similar circumstances a member of staff would get paid leave at our school anyway. --anf muggins ends up cover ing their classes--angry angry

baffledmum Sun 06-Oct-13 20:16:37

Children of school age and teachers should be in school during term-time. It's pretty simple and it's the law. Not sure why anyone feels aggrieved about being told that their kid can't take a day off. If the wedding planning started 2 years ago the bridal party could have got a Saturday. If it's costing you a fortune to go I'd bin the wedding. Bloody selfish to put you to so much expense for a party.

Hulababy Sun 06-Oct-13 20:30:03

I think it completely and utterly ridiculous how a child cannot be granted one day off school to attend a family wedding. There is no sense behind it at all. The child's education will not be affected by one day, the teachers work load will not be affected by one day, no other child's education will be affected by one day. There is no common sense being applied, nothing.

But then, even despite having been a teacher and still now working FT in schools as teaching staff, I can't see why children cant be granted 1-2 weeks holiday in term time, especially in primary school.

It isn't the children who miss the odd 1-2 weeks a year for a family holiday who are an issue. It is far more complex than that.

Governments should start looking at the real issues rather than trying to control stuff like this that really didn't need faffing with.

Hulababy Sun 06-Oct-13 20:32:36

As for refusing leave for a funeral - tbh I would be fuming! How callous can a person be?!

Even teachers and HT are allowed time off to attend family weddings and funerals, with a fair bit of leeway given when it isn't just immediate family or it involves close friends - as they should be!

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 20:34:26

baffledmum Should funerals and unforeseen family emergencies only happen in school holidays? So you wouldn't be aggrieved if you were told that you couldn't travel with your DCs to the funeral of a close family member or to visit a seriously ill relative as has happened at our school.
What happens to those with family living abroad where it's not possible to travel there and back over a weekend?

shebird Sun 06-Oct-13 20:45:29

Hulababy makes me so cross that when teachers have time off for sickness or other reasons and a supply teacher is brought in, the children and parents have to be understanding and daren't say their child's learning has been affected but if a child is missing for a day this is hugely disruptive for the teacherconfused

i think i would send them a carefully worded letter explaining the reasons why your dd should attend the wedding and miss school. it's a family obligation.

the school must act as they see fit in response.

and then i'd hope that they not take it any further. seems utterly ridiculous to me.

Hulababy Sun 06-Oct-13 20:54:55

shebird - not one of the teachers where I work would consider it a problem or even vaguely disruptive for them if a child missed a day, a week or even a fortnight from school. It would only be disruptive if the teacher was being asked to set and mark work for the child or to put on extra sessions on their return for said child., but we are never expected to do that by our HT anyway. We are, however, primary.

NewNameforNewTerm Sun 06-Oct-13 21:00:22

"makes me so cross that when teachers have time off for sickness" hmm. Sorry, I'll remember to be ill in the holidays form now onwards and can you please tell that to the bug that is going round children and staff alike.

baffledmum Sun 06-Oct-13 21:12:25

Family emergencies are one thing, a planned wedding or a holiday are another. That's just common sense.

I definitely wouldn't and didn't take my primary school kids out of school to visit a seriously ill relative. We've been through that this year.

Relatives living abroad I can see is trickier but I have a friend from NZ and she has never taken her kids out of school to go home. Life's about making choices, I guess. Besides, why should someone lucky enough to have relatives in Oz, say, be able to go but someone going on holiday is turned down? In what way is the holiday a less valid reason? Term time is term time - it's only 38 weeks or so of the year!

A wedding is absolutely not an obligation. You need a bride and groom and a couple of witnesses to get married. Anyone over and above that minimum is a choice and a nice-to-have.

teacherwith2kids Sun 06-Oct-13 21:13:03

"I mean how many parents would really take their DCs out of school every year for a two week holiday if they were really struggling and behind."

You live, I am afraid, in lalaland. Many children struggle partly BECAUSE their parents do not value education, and one symptom of that lack of value would be taking 2 weeks of holiday in term time every year.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Oct-13 21:21:23

Sorry, baffledmum, but I do not agree that the wedding of a close family member is less important than one day of primary school. You may legally only need a bride, groom and a couple of witnesses to get married, but family weddings and funerals are not just about fulfilling legal formalities. If you think they are, then I'm glad I'm not part of your family.

Hulababy Sun 06-Oct-13 21:23:38

I missed 1-2 weeks a year from school every year when growing up. My dad's factory had shutdown weeks when all holidays had to be taken. It was always in term time, and the fortnight one was in June. So, in order to be able to holiday we (me, brother and sister) missed school every year. This did not mean my parents didn't value school and education - infact they very much did value it!

However, they also understood the need for us all to have time away from the stresses and strains of every day life, having time out together as a family, time to be together and do fun stuff, no work, no housework, no chores.

All three of us went on to do well at school, passed exams, went to university and all working in chosen professions. Our education did not suffer at all. Our family life very much did benefit from family holidays, even if only a few days away, a few miles away on a beach.

It has to be a balance imo. Yes, school only occurs 39 weeks a year but as travel companies dictate the such high rices in school holidays, and people have mixed family make ups with family living abroad, etc. schools SHOULD be allowed to use flexibility and discretion.

tiggytape Sun 06-Oct-13 22:23:38

makes me so cross that when teachers have time off for sickness or other reasons and a supply teacher is brought in, the children and parents have to be understanding

And in return teachers are understanding towards sick children being off school, needing help to catch up, needing to go over what has been missed. Nobody can help illness.

I mean how many parents would really take their DCs out of school every year for a two week holiday if they were really struggling and behind. Maybe I just live in lala land.

Thousands. You are definitely in lala land if you think otherwise. People take the holidays in term time because it is cheaper and / or the destinations are less busy and packed. It is definitely not something parents only do if their child is comfortably ahead at school - apart from anything many people have more than one child so they are hardly likely to leave one behind if they're not as bright as their siblings. For most, their desire to go on holiday is the only consideration and they either assume the child will catch up or they assume they won't miss much. Millions of school days are (or were) lost to term time holidays. These weren't all top group children being signed out to see the sites in Florence!

MidniteScribbler Mon 07-Oct-13 00:37:44

Our school is very strict about days off, but by applying strict standards, it does actually allow the head to be fair about genuine reasons for absence. Family wedding or funeral - absolutely. Representative sport, music exams, performances, - yes. Trip to visit dying grandparent in foreign country - yes. Parent only gets holiday from work during term time and a holiday is planned and these are the educational opportunities we are planning during that holiday and what provisions we are making to still get school work done - let's talk about it and make sure it works. Jolly holiday to the gold coast theme parks because it is quieter during term time - not a chance.

Because parents actually bother to come and talk to the school BEFORE they go booking themselves on holidays, it usually works out ok. Parents who demonstrate that they take their child's education seriously and can show that they are trying to work out the best option (booking it close to a holiday to minimise days off, taking a laptop so children can log in to pick up school work and do it while away, etc, are more likely to get approved.

BTW, as a teacher, I will only miss school for sickness and funerals. I will not take a day off for a wedding booked on a weekday. If someone wants their wedding on a working day, then they need to expect that there will be people who cannot attend.

iloverainbows Mon 07-Oct-13 05:35:23

I am quite surprised really that you felt you had to request this time off. I would have just sent a note in/filled a form in to inform the school that my DC wouldn't be at school that day and why. I suppose the only other option would have been to just not tell them and then call in sick. Although that would be telling a lie and not a good example to your DC.

As regards what can you do now, again I am amazed that you are considering not going. Just go in and tell them that you followed the correct procedure and will be taking your DC to an important family event.

shebird Mon 07-Oct-13 09:57:19

tiggytape and teacherwith2kids perhaps I do live in lala land or maybe I am just lucky that very few of the parents at our school take kids out of school for a cheap deal in the sun. The few that have done have had a valid reason and have made sure that their kids kept up with schoolwork while away. The vast majority of parents do care about their children's education so let's not tar us all with the same brush because of the few who do not.
My problem is not with term time holidays but the fact that pretty much any other request for time off is now declined because of a few who abuse the system.

Bramshott Mon 07-Oct-13 10:09:47

I generally hesitate to comment on these threads, because this is something I'm ambivalent about, BUT - I do think there's a general misunderstanding of the terminology here.

You can't request leave from school the way you do from a job, and expect it to be approved if there's no major reason why not. Everyone has the absolute right to take their children out of school without losing their school place for up to 10 days each year. Yes, it will probably be recorded as unauthorised absence unless there's a very compelling reason why not, and yes, it's increasingly possible you may be fined. But the school cannot stop you from taking your child out, nor take away your school place for doing so.

So in this instance, the leave hasn't been "declined", the OP has simply been told that this instance doesn't fit within the very narrow description of what can be recorded as authorised absence. Headteachers simply do not have the leeway they had in the past to decide what is or isn't an authorised absence.

OP - if it's important to you to go, and the fine (if it happens) would not be financially ruinous - then you should by all means go.

tiggytape Mon 07-Oct-13 10:13:40

Everyone has the absolute right to take their children out of school without losing their school place for up to 10 days each year.

No they don't.
The reference to 10 days has now been dropped completely - not that it was ever intended as an "absolute right" in the first place. Part of the problem was people thinking 10 days maximum meant 2 week holiday just for the asking.

You are however correct - nothing terrible in terms of losing your school place will happen to you if you take your children out without permission for a short time. The worst that can happen is you will get a fine. With 2 parents, the fine is £120 per day per child. This isn't down to the school though - they have no say about the fines or about parents going to court if they won't pay them.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Oct-13 10:48:15

Actually, tiggytape, I think Bramshott was referring to the fact that a child cannot be taken off the school roll for going on a holiday of 10 days or less. If a child misses more than 10 consecutive school days on any type of unauthorised absence, holiday or otherwise, I think the school is actually entitled to remove their name from the school roll... might be wrong on that, but I think it is actually the case. Thus, the magic 10 days is still relevant, because the ultimate punishment does not apply for less time than that.

rabbitstew Mon 07-Oct-13 10:52:42

No, actually I think a child can be missing for more than 10 days before their name gets removed...

Our LEA has issued the advice that HTs are unable to authorise any absences. And that absences attract a fine of £120.

My understanding is that HT's are able to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances and that fines are not automatic and will only increase to the full £120 if payment is delayed.

I think there is a lot of fudging going to scare parents by making the new rules seem more draconian and inflexible than they actually are.

FionaJT Mon 07-Oct-13 11:21:35

Wow, I am surprised by the OP, and this thread has made me really appreciate dd's school. She is Yr 4, this morning I had a quick chat with her Headmaster to enquire what procedure I would have to go through to take her out of school for a day next week for a family funeral (my Grandmother who my dd did see regularly). He said no forms, just let us know when she is going and was very sympathetic.

I don't take dd out of school for term-time holidays (my parents were teachers and I survived childhood without extra holidays!) but a day or two for major family events whose scheduling you have no control over is a different kettle of fish.

TheGonnagle Mon 07-Oct-13 11:31:24

The fine is per period of absence, and in our LEA that equates to up to ten days is considered one period of absence. So that's £60 per parent per ten days, not per day.
Not sure if LEA's are interpreting the rules differently, but that's how it goes round here. If there are LEA's going for £60 per day per parent then this discrepancy makes it all even more unfair.
Personally I'm going to accept the fines and get on with my life as I see fit. She is, after all, my daughter and not Michael Gove's so I think I probably should have the last say.

tiggytape Mon 07-Oct-13 13:44:39

Fiona - I am sorry abut your Gramdma.
All schools should still be sympathetic to a family funeral and view it as exceptional time off - even more so than a wedding because of course the timing is not chosen (sorry if that's sounds crass - I couldn't think how to put it). All Head Teachers still have full power to authorise a day off for the funeral of a close relative and would hopefully be kind and sensitive about doing so.

Bramshott Mon 07-Oct-13 14:25:18

Tiggytape - maybe "absolute right" was a bad turn of phrase. I guess what I was trying to say is that the school cannot physically stop you, nor take away your child's place, nor refer you to social services if you take your DC out of school for a small number of days (and I thought that was up to 10) each year.

What they can't do either (except in truly exceptional circumstances) is record it as authorised, or have any influence over whether the LA will fine you or not.

When we discuss this on here I think people fail to understand what schools can and can't do, and that it isn't a moral judgement rather just rules and regulations, and I was trying to cut through that!

My DDs school has always had the policy of not authorizing holidays in term time.

Every July we go to the Cotswolds on a camping trip and go to RAF Fairford air tattoo (since DD was about 7 months old she is now 7 yo)
and when she started full time school i asked for permission to take her out of school. I always had a letter back to say no and intimating there may be a fine etc we couldnt afford to go in July 2012 so DD had 100% attendance and i asked her what she had been doing in school on the one day we asked for...she said "watching cinderella and colouring in" hmm

This year i wrote a short letter to the head advising him we would be going, where we were going and what we would be doing whilst we were there. I decided that i wouldnt be asking permission to take MY DD out of school for 1 day when her attendance record is otherwise impeccable and she would literally spend the day colouring in etc whether She misses 1 day at school or not is MY decision and if they felt there would be an issue with this then i am available to discuss it further. I didnt hear from the head about it.

In your shoes OP, i would write back thanking the head for his response and advise him that your DD will not be in that day as previously advised and leave it at that.

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