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Taking your child out of school for a holiday...not to save money but do have Christmas abroad...

(41 Posts)
TattyDevine Tue 07-May-13 21:42:39

I am Australian. I haven't been "home" for Christmas since 2005. My children have never been to Australia for Christmas.

I would like to take them this year. I'd like them to miss that last week of nativity play and paper chain making and fly out for an educational, family orientated holiday instead. It will cost me a flaming fortune, and prices are inflated not discounted at that time of year. So its not for me, its with family in mind.

I have a feeling the head teacher will say no. Not because he has bad attendance - at this point he hasn't had a single day off. I dont' actually mind if she doesn't authorise it. I will happily take him unauthorised. However. I upset her at a PTA meeting by seeking clarification on a financial matter, which was necessary for the minutes. I did it in the most sensitive way possible, but I think she wants to "punish" me. She has form for this, by the way.

Apparently the "rules" have changed about absence, unauthorised absence etc. Bearing in mind I can't guarantee her "authorising" it, I'd like to know my legal position regarding "doing it anyway" if I'm going to do this, and bearing in mind this has apparently recently changed, I'd be really grateful to hear from anyone who knows about the new laws/guidelines whatever they are!

Sorry if this isn't quite an AiBU. Perhaps AIBU. But seeing your grandparents at Christmas for the first time ever is not surely that unreasonable, unless missing a nativity play and pouring glitter on a robin is key stuff. He is 5 by the way

Thanks in advance...

HerRoyalNotness Thu 09-May-13 01:42:33

They can't forbid you to go, so go

CoolStoryBro Thu 09-May-13 00:59:21

Just go!

Mutley77 Thu 09-May-13 00:54:43

tatty just to clarify I don't disagree with your reasoning and would take them if I were you. I just wouldn't assume the school will (or should) see it the same way. But I don't think you should unduly worry about that or try to justify yourself.

whatasook I feel exactly the same about it now we are living away from my family. I will still take the kids out of school if I wish to but I don't feel that the school should allow it just because I have chosen to live on the other side of the world. My kids will have 6 weeks holiday here over Christmas which is when I should be rights take them home but I refuse to travel at that time of year which is my own stubbornness and IMO the school have every right to tell me their absence at another time of year is unauthorised.

I am lucky that my parents understand the dynamics of travel with kids and are prepared to visit me here 2 x per year. While they are well enough to still do so I will minimise trips back. I do feel grandparents can also tend to feel a bit entitled to being visited which is another discussion.

Mrsrobertduvall Wed 08-May-13 14:51:48

Dh has taken ds to Australia for the last 2 Christmasses, which meant ds having 5 days off school when he returned in January.
That was yr 8 and 9.
The first time we approached the head before anything was booked...she authorised it and when he came back, once she saw what he got out of it, said she would allow it the following year as well. He has only had 3 sick days in 3 years, and is works very hard at school.

No trips planned till after gcses now.
Wonderful experience for him..he plans to work there and travel extensively.

And I had 2 nice quiet Christmasses!

TattyDevine Wed 08-May-13 14:47:59

Mutley has a point but to be fair the last 3 times we've been there have been in Winter.

But we are not going to chase sun, we are going because Christmas for us is a time for family and reunions etc. My parents have really drawn the short straw here; we have been with our inlaws for the last 7 years, with my parents here one of those years in between.

So whilst we COULD go at another time of year, and it would be actually quite a bit cheaper, its hard to replace that Christmas/family time thing. I've fobbed them off for 8 whole years...whilst I am hopeful they are in good health, what if in another 8 they werent' here?

I'm pretty sure I've decided life is too short.

WhataSook Wed 08-May-13 14:42:16

Mutley I'd be interested to see if you still "don't subscribe to the argument that just because they have relatives elsewhere they are "entitled" to special treatment for time off - there are still six weeks summer holidays even if they aren't the best time to travel to the southern hemisphere" when it's your family you/they haven't seen in years.

My DD is too young at the moment but if we remain in the UK until she goes to school I will be taking her home for Christmas if that suits me and asking the school what extra work she might need to do while gone.

I am really shocked at how much authority schools here seem to have.

TattyDevine Wed 08-May-13 14:20:09

I did a 10 day trip there last summer (their winter) but on my own, so I was able to have strategic naps and manage my jet lag with no other influences, and I was pretty much over it in 3 days. With kids and other factors its generally 5 days until you can happily stay up past about 8pm! Though you tend to wake up at 4am so at least you can get up and out!

Yes, it takes a long time to get there and a long time to get back and when you do you feel quite dead for a few days!

That said, I did work out looking at the calendar that I could do a 2 week 3 day holiday there without taking any unauthorised absence. But for 5k or nearly 6k depending on car hire, it would be great to have a full 3 weeks bearing in mind a week can be overcoming illness and jetlag (always pick up a cold or something on the plane - plane with circulating air full of UK people at Christmas - nuff said)

Thanks for all your replies!

TraceyTrickster Wed 08-May-13 11:32:25

Jan49 - not sure if you realise just how far Australia is.
The absolute fastest journey is 24 hours, some airlines it is longer.
You also cross 11 time the elapsed time to arrive in Aus is minimum of 36 hours. Recovering from that takes a few days. No way would I visit Aus/UK in 2 weeks.

We are in Aus and are talking of a trip to UK next year (G2) and the school have said 'no worries' but they recommend no more than 2 weeks out of school per trip. Much more realistic approach.

mummymeister Wed 08-May-13 07:39:47

I have taken my 3 out (2 senior school 1 junior) for 2 weeks each year for the past 2 years over Christmas because our jobs mean that we cannot take leave during school hols. I spoke to the head first, asked her whether before or after Christmas fitted in best with school calendars arranged for my 3 to do extra work before we went, buddy up whilst away so all work scanned and copied and extra work on return. also we did a "project" whilst on hols. My experience is that if you discuss it first then reasonable people make a reasonable decision. Your DC's will get so much out of being away.

Nehru Wed 08-May-13 07:33:00

so what?
Pay the fine, job done

Catsnotrats Wed 08-May-13 07:31:29

Just go, and I say that as a teacher. Our school probably wouldn't authorise it, but neither would we pursue it if your attendance is otherwise good. In fact the normal pattern is - parent puts in request, head refuses it, office automatically mark the child as absent in advance as we know they are going to go anyway. It's only unauthorised to keep ofsted happy. The majority of children have an unauthorised absence somewhere on their record, it really is no biggie.

I was taken out for 3 weeks in year 5 to visit family in Australia. I learnt and remember so much from that time, I definitely can't remember anything about the preceding 3 weeks in school!

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Wed 08-May-13 07:07:48

Yes, the rules are tighter

Yes, you can be fined, whether you are or not I think depends on your LA not the school.

No it's nothing to do with the head's disagreement with you

I think attendance records start anew with each school year so taking a week at the end of the first term has more impact on the % attendance than doing so at the end of the third term.

scaevola Wed 08-May-13 06:59:22

There is no right to appeal to the Governors. This is written into law. It's the HT's decision, and parents have no right to take a child out in term time.

Many HT's simply do not authorise any.

OP if you think HT is acting vengefully because of the PTA business and has form for being 'vengeful, then perhaps you need to look at whether you keep your DCs in this school (I realise you may have no other options though), or at least think how you will counter the influence of an ethos with which you have difficulties. The holiday is less important, really, than protecting your children from a malign, vengeful person in a position of influence over both them and their teachers.

JulesJules Wed 08-May-13 06:48:40


This thread has been an eye opener - I had no idea that you could be fined for taking your child, your own child out of school for a few days, it should be absolutely the parents decision, not up to a HT. Especially if one is so childish as to 'punish' you for asking a question at a meeting by withholding permission, FFS. Also ridiculous that it can vary so much from school to school. I'm sure this would be grounds for appeal in itself.

The last week of any term is full of missable non educational stuff anyway. I was amazed to find out just how much DVD watching goes on...

At my girls' primary, they have several friends with Australian or South African families who have all taken time off to visit grandparents abroad and this has never been a problem as far as I know.

Good luck with it.

Mutley77 Wed 08-May-13 06:44:02

I think you are worrying far too much about your personal relationship with the Head.

If you want to go and believe it is in the best interests of your child then I would just go anyway and accept any consequences of the unauthorised absence (if that is what happens).

We did it once (DH is Australian and until v recently we were living in England) and it was a total PITA and I would literally never go away for Christmas again until our children are teenagers! Of course we have and would visit at other times of the year. I don't subscribe to the argument that just because they have relatives elsewhere they are "entitled" to special treatment for time off - there are still six weeks summer holidays even if they aren't the best time to travel to the southern hemisphere. Also most grandparents these days are well enough to travel to spend Christmas with their grandchildren even if they don't particularly want to - so I don't subscribe to that argument either.

Saying that I would take my kids out of school again (will probably take them out of school for a week in July here in Australia so we can visit the UK for three weeks) but if there is any problem with the school I am not going to get on my high horse and argue with them - I will just accept the consequences.

NewAtThisMalarky Wed 08-May-13 06:34:27

People get fined for that? Seriously? On what basis - surely it costs the school nothing.

That's bloody ridiculous.

The more I read about schools south the happier I am to stay put!

sashh Wed 08-May-13 06:24:21

All schools have to give some authorised absence days, for religious holidays, I think it is 2 days, might be 3.

You will have the two weeks Xmas holiday and as you say the last week not much work is done.

So a 3 week holiday with a max 2-3 days unauthorised, you might get a letter, you won't get a fine.

Actually you could request the religious days in 2012 and 2013, they don't know if your family celebrate 25th Dec of early Jan, or that you don't celebrate an indigenous festival, so last 3 days of December and first 3 days after Xmas holiday and very difficult for the head to argue Xmas is not a religious festival.

Go and have a fab time

Morloth Wed 08-May-13 04:24:03

I don't even understand the question.

When we went home (UK to Australia) for Christmas, I let the school know he would be away and then just went.

What can they actually do to you if you just do what you need to? Is there a fine? A jail term? What? Stern letter [snort].

It really is very strange, I have never encountered it in any of the schools DS1 has been too, either here in Oz or at his UK school.

NynaevesSister Wed 08-May-13 04:12:48

Jan49 because you also lose from 3 to five days in jet lag and because air fares at the time if the year are twice what they are normally you want to really make the most of it.

Pantone363 Wed 08-May-13 00:56:20

And the reason we took them was because ex and I had just got divorced and DD was taking it very badly. We took them to show them that we would still have "family" time together and it did the world of good for DD.

The head didnt care at all.

Pantone363 Wed 08-May-13 00:54:49

Our head is utterly notorious for refusing any absence at all. I can only think of one occasion when she did and it was because one of the parents had been very ill and they wanted a family holiday.

We took DC out for a week last year and got a very angry letter threatening all kinds if we did it again.

Jan49 Wed 08-May-13 00:32:17

Sorry if I'm being dim here, but why does a child need to miss a week's school to go to Australia for Christmas? Can't you go during the 16 days or so that they are off school over Christmas and New Year which would give you around 12-14 non-travelling days there?

expatinscotland Tue 07-May-13 22:29:49

We did this last year and it was well worth it! Had a brilliant time in the US.

Notcontent Tue 07-May-13 22:29:17

The whole system is a bit silly. We always take an extra week off to go to Australia and it's fine because dd's school does authorise absences for that kind of thing. But another nearby school takes a very hard-line approach and never authorises absences.

You should just go anyway.

froggers1 Tue 07-May-13 22:23:19

Crikey - I am scared now. My DH is kiwi and DS is starting reception in Sept. We are thinking of doing a Xmas/ January in NZ. Probably not next year. I will pull the ethnic/ Grandmother ill card....I mean who wants to go in July/ Aug (i.e. middle of winter?)

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