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OMG. Are these 'penalty notices' for taking children out of school in term time legally enforceable?

(768 Posts)
Utterlyastoundedmum Mon 22-Jul-13 14:53:42

Not interested in having a debate about whether it is 'right' to take a child out of schol, in term time for holidays etc. just wanting to know whether they can be enforced from a legal perspective.

I have just read the latest school newsletter and am to be honest, very annoyed indeed to find that as of September the school are changing its policy on authorising absences. Until now it's always been on a case by case basis but now they are saying no absence will be authorised whatsoever no matter what, except for one day for weddings ( with proof!)

The penalty is £60 or £120.

Not very fair on any parents such as myself who booked a holiday for a week in October as we really CANNOT get away in half term this year.

I will not be paying unless this is legally enforcible!!

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 23:13:50

But why unauthorised? Why even authorised?

Why not simply educated off-site?

The school now has to supervise this now, but supervision can take a variety of forms, not least virtual.

thismousebites Wed 24-Jul-13 23:18:50

I'm a bit confused regarding unauthorised absence. If your DC ends up with a low attendance record how does that affect them when they leave school?

missymarmite Wed 24-Jul-13 23:32:57

I suspect that for the odd day here or there it won't be an issue, but you shouldn't be taking kids out for weeks at a time anyway.

Are they really going to take a family to court for taking a day or two for a family wedding, or extension to a holiday? That would be unreasonable.

If you deliberately take your child out for a week or more that's irresponsible IMHO, sorry, in which case YABU.

bochead Thu 25-Jul-13 00:06:37

I took my child out of school for a week this year. Not for fun, but because he was just so stressed out as he has complex needs and the school was not providing the support which his statement says he is legally entitled to. If were to be fined for taking such an action then frankly I'd counter sue!

A fine would not stop me taking the action I did, as no fine is equal in value to preserving a young child's mental health intact. It takes 6-18 months to go through the legal process when a school is failing in it's duties to a child with disabilities. That's a VERY long time in the life of a child.

I know many a parent of a SN child who at some point in their school has had to take similar action to the one I took, when their child hit crisis point.

I'm inclined to agree with Star. State education is failing in too many areas, for too many children at present and increasing the rigidity of the "sausage factory" is not the answer when children are going to enter a world of work based on increasing amounts of homeworking, portfolio careers, self-employment etc, etc. The days of 1/2 day closing on a Wednesday are long gone.

Our education system is designed to produce 19th century factory and farm workers in a working world where the pace of change is ever increasing. The UK functional adult literacy and numeracy rates are shocking, proof positive that we need to look at new evidence based teaching methods and designing an educational system that meets the needs of modern working parents, & the world of work our children will be entering not those of their grandparents.

Hercule Thu 25-Jul-13 14:58:52

Marmalade - so you would like to have a system where parents can apply to take their children out for 1 or 2 weeks authorised absence and this can be granted or not by the head depending on the child's attendance record ( as has apparently been the case in many places).

So to any teachers on this thread - what are your opinions of this system? Is it be possible to teach your class effectively if various pupils are absent for a couple of weeks here and there? Genuine question to ascertain whether this system has been working ok from the teachers' point of view. Or is there a genuine reason for this change of policy.

motownmover Thu 25-Jul-13 19:00:50

motownmover Thu 25-Jul-13 19:01:22

echt Thu 25-Jul-13 20:25:21

I teach in a secondary school in Australia, used to teach in the UK, and do exactly the same in each. I set work if asked for it but never ever give a catch up lesson for students who go on holiday. I give them any notes/ homeworks that have been handed out, but expect them to read them/ do the work. Or not. It's their problem.

I don't hold up my teaching and students' learning for such absentees. Just wouldn't occur to me to do this, and struggle to see how anyone can justify doing this. I have never had a request for extra lessons and would snort with derision if asked. Nor would I do it.

DD's school had the right idea, which was they permitted all holidays, but parents must not expect special work to be set for their child.

I think the UK policy is silly, but that if parents take their children out, then they should just suck up the consequences and not expect the teachers to set special work or give up their time to re-teach topics or give extra lessons.

MarmaladeTwatkins Thu 25-Jul-13 20:46:43

I agree with you, echt. When DS has been take out for a week, I have caught him up with the help of class notes/worksheets etc.

Exactly that, Hercule. By all accounts, our head liked the system as it was. Feel a bit sorry for her because she's going to get a lot of crap over it next year.

Bue Thu 25-Jul-13 20:51:09

Yet another reason why I'll move back to Canada by the time I have school age children. This law is bloody ridiculous.

echt Thu 25-Jul-13 20:56:56

I should add that Australia has always had a relaxed attitude about this, probably recognising the fact that most folk have rels abroad and in the northern hemisphere.

In teaching we accrue long service leave, six weeks of paid leave after five years of full-time work. Every one goes on long haul holidays. It's very civilised.

motownmover Thu 25-Jul-13 21:43:14

Interesting to see perspectives from teachers.

With family in Aus and NZ then this issue is important for me.

MarmaladeTwatkins Fri 26-Jul-13 08:57:40

Echt, that's so nice that your work is recognised with a reward of a good chunk of leave. I would imagine that you feel more appreciated than the teachers here do. smile

echt Fri 26-Jul-13 09:59:02

It's a bit good, isn't it Marmalade? All public servants get this. I wonder how long it will last.

For teachers it makes up for the rubbish pay in government schools, when compared to private. We can't just bog off, but put in for leave. Over a certain number of weeks and you can't have exam classes, though this makes me wonder why it's OK to disrupt the education of lower school students. hmm

Now I think of it, in the UK, we got a certificate of long service if we did 25 years in the same LEA.grin I was in a number of LEAs for a longer than this so was denied the recognition. Compare a piece of paper for VERY long service in the UK to a tangible reward for what, quite frankly, looks like moderate service to me.

Hercule Fri 26-Jul-13 15:22:47

Starlight -
" 'what about children whose parents don't care about or value education?'

What about them?

They should be treated the same way as parents who don't value other aspects of parenting, like feeding them or leaving them alone for long periods of time.

You have children, you provide them with safety, warmth, food and an education."

That is a valid Point. But what standard of education would be acceptable and who would police this?

If I don't feed my children at all (or really badly) social services would get involved and ultimately take my children into care. However if I choose to fed them chicken nuggets or burgers every night it's unlikely social services would be that concerned. The children are being fed after all, maybe not what some people would consider a great diet.

So if it is purely the parent's responsibility to ensure the child has a good education who decides what this good education looks like and polices it? Would it be judged by how well a child is progressing academically? If a child does not make sufficient academic progress is the school accountable or the parents? If the child is not in school all the time the school may understandably not be prepared to take responsibility. If they are doing really badly would a parent risk having their children taken into care? If not on academic progress ( or attendance at school) how would the quality of the education that is being provided be evaluated.

I think the problem as I see it is the bar would inevitably be set pretty low on 'providing a child's education' ( as it is to be honest in respect to those other areas you mentioned-unless a parent is severely neglecting their child or endangering their well-being they are unlikely to be investigated by social services). So some children would be getting a pretty scant and crappy education whilst others would be far better off, depending on the parents' attitude. And the point of state education, available to all, has always been to try to help redress this imbalance so regardless of what other disadvantages a child suffers at home, they are able to access a quality education to help them do better in the future.

Hercule Fri 26-Jul-13 15:29:30

Forgot to add re parent's responsibility to educate- a child at my school has had a long period of low attendance ( around 70%) which was being heavily investigated. The parent has now decided to HE. From what I have read on various threads here I am led to believe that there is little in the way of 'checking up' done on HE'ers, instead it is down to the parent's responsibility. From what I know of this particular child and his family it is very doubtful he will be receiving any kind of quality education. I think that's a shame.

IWipeArses Fri 26-Jul-13 16:17:36

There is little checking up done on Home Edders Hercule, as it should be. This is not a police state, yet.

NutcrackerFairy Sat 27-Jul-13 07:07:13

Agree with StarlightMcKenzie.

Theexisapsychocunt Sat 27-Jul-13 07:21:21

Our holidays are educational - I have no doubt my children learn more from 3 weeks in France with us than they do in school (inc Half term) and let them fine away - even a £240 fine would take the coat of that 3 weeks to £640 as opposed to £2, 500.

Why should foreign travel become the province of the wealthy?

This is a subtle piece of social engineering designed to keep the paupers in their place.

jessed4147 Thu 05-Sep-13 17:20:42

home educate problem solved no need to stick to term times and you can do as many educational trips as you like :-) although i do agree that time with family is important and think this is another step backwards for an already far too restrictive education system

halfdozen2001 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:00:20

i don't agree with taking children out of school for family holidays however the travel company's leave us with no choice. i am a mum to 4 children and struggling with money due to the increase in household bills and unfortunately can't afford to take my kids on holiday other than in term time. if the schools could change the dates for holidays or the holiday company's dramatically reduce their costs my kids will never have a holiday. what amazes me is that teachers can strike and have training days in term time but we can't have holidays!!

Hulababy Wed 25-Sep-13 20:11:18

Training days do not take any education days away from your child! Children receive the same number of education as they did before.

Several years ago teachers lost 5 day of their holidays in order to have training days. Schools can chose when they use them - teachers rarely, if ever, have any say in when they occur. Children's holidays stayed the same - just that 5 days of their holidays are now moveable.

Striking is a legal right for most employees. There would be no point in striking in school holidays. Strikes have to cause an inconvenience in order to have people take notice of them. Whilst it is a pain for working parents it is a legal right.

Hulababy Wed 25-Sep-13 20:16:32

BTW I have no issue with term time holidays either though. I really do not believe that 1-2 missed weeks a year in primary school will negatively affect the vast majority of children - and ime it is not actually distruptive for the class teacher or the other children either. Extended time away from school is, especially if the child is then not reading, writing, and sometimes not speaking English the whole time, but that is often a totally different circumstance.

I missed up to 2 weeks a year when growing up, til I ws about 13y. My brother was the same, my sister too. We all managed to get decent GCSEs and A Levels, go to university and get good jobs. My dad had factory shut down weeks and these were in term time - it was holiday then or not at all.

I still believe holidays as a family, even if just sat on a beach and regardless of whether 10 miles down the road or 1000s of miles, are vitally important to every member of a family. Time to be together as family group without the constraints of work and school, emails to answer, phne calls to make, shopping to do and housework to finish

halfdozen2001 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:30:01

thank you for explaining that to me as this has been a bug bearer of mine for some time. I still don't agree with teachers striking at the expense of a child's education however i do understand that they need to get their point across but did it really make much difference after the last one otherwise why strike again! If schools split the summer holidays then surely that would be a compromise for them and the parents and of course the children. I believe every family if they are able to should have a family holiday why should we be penalized for that?

WorraLiberty Wed 25-Sep-13 20:34:49

i don't agree with taking children out of school for family holidays however the travel company's leave us with no choice. i am a mum to 4 children and struggling with money due to the increase in household bills and unfortunately can't afford to take my kids on holiday other than in term time.

But not all holidays are the same price confused

Surely you'd just choose a cheaper holiday or spend longer saving up for it?

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