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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!!

halfdozen2001 Wed 25-Sep-13 20:47:18

your right they are not the same price they are either expensive or too expensive. my family can have 1 holiday in 3 years if i payed July and august prices but if we went in June we would be able to have one every other year. i planned to take mine on holiday at the end of June 2014, after all the exams were finished and lets face it they don't do a lot of work in primary school in the last few weeks of term before summer hols apart from sports days and annual fund raising events at our school but was told i would be fined which would cost me 960 pound, and that added to an already 3000 pound holiday it would still be cheaper! If i saved up for 3 years for 1 holiday my kids would miss out as most of your childhood memories are holidays/birthdays/Christmas's and i want to enjoy my kids while they still want to come on holiday with their boring old parents!

boschy Wed 25-Sep-13 21:56:39

confirmed at a gov mtg tonight. Head can no longer legally authorise holiday in termtime, whatever the situation, eg dad's a firefighter and gets holiday on a rota.

she can authorise absence, eg in cases of bereavement, but how much depends on child's attendance level.

in fact, NO ONE can legally authorise holiday during termtime.

meditrina Wed 25-Sep-13 22:01:05

Saying that, then they are misrepresenting the law. The law says that it is a matter for HTs. HTs still have discretion to authorise (with no time limit) for anything that they (the HT) deems exceptional.

Governors however have no legal standing in this. Though of course I expect a HT would work with them on any and every school policy, regardless of who is empowered by law to carry out various actions.

gordyslovesheep Wed 25-Sep-13 22:02:48

you can still have nice holidays - next summer we wont be going abroad - I can't afford it in school holidays, we are renting a cottage in Somerset near a beach - we will still have wonderful memories - for less than £600

Now if I can just get the EWO to stop mythering me over CAMHS appointments .....

boschy Wed 25-Sep-13 22:12:39

really meditrina? but then holidays arent 'exceptional' I guess...

mummy1973 Wed 25-Sep-13 22:14:39

There are 13 weeks of school holiday. Suggest you cut your cloth to fit - go on a holiday you can afford. If not then yes you have to pay the fine. It is enforceable.

notthefirstagainstthewall Wed 25-Sep-13 22:47:34

The fine is for what? The whole period or £60 for every session or day?

Who decides the HT or the LEA. Confused.

crazycanuck Wed 25-Sep-13 23:50:05

It's bollocks like this that makes me glad we have left the British education system (along with the teaching of God's existence as a fact but that's a whole other thread). This is copied from the policy section of one of the primary school's where we now live:

Extended Absences

A small but significant number of our students are absent from school for extended periods. Holiday travel and parent business responsibilities are the most common reasons given for extended absence from school. Classroom teachers are not expected to prepare work for children who miss school for family vacations. However, we would be happy to provide you with some suggested activities you can incorporate into your holiday to extend your child’s learning. For example, he/she can record travel experiences in a daily journal. You should read this journal with the writer at the end of every day. Suggestions for improvements in spelling and grammar are appropriate. Letters and postcards to classmates give your child a purpose for practicing written expression. Daily reading is always recommended but it is especially important if the child is on an extended absence. A math workbook of the type available through teaching supply stores, book stores and many drug stores is useful. Take every opportunity to involve your child in real life situations to practice counting, operations and problem solving. Collect and arrange displays of maps, postcards and brochures about the places you visit. Finally, take the time to talk with your child about what you see and experience.

How refreshing!

crazycanuck Wed 25-Sep-13 23:52:43

Argh frakking autocorrect! Excuse my rogue apostrophe!

PrincessScrumpy Wed 25-Sep-13 23:59:56

NOT sure if this has been covered but my mil works in Kent and at her school is £75 per parent so a single parent family would pay £75 but 2 parent family pays double and even if parents are separated and only one authorised the holiday the other parent is fined too.

justanuthermanicmumsday Thu 26-Sep-13 00:10:04

I think it's a money making exercise they need of increase the size of their coffers

justanuthermanicmumsday Thu 26-Sep-13 00:11:06


TheHouseCleaner Thu 26-Sep-13 00:18:49

"So hang on my child should be in school in September yet the education authority do not have a place and not likely to October half term

So how comes that's ok but yet holidays are not"

I have no idea, Thehumancatapult. Just like I have no idea why it was ok for my LA to screw up and knowingly break the law for 6 whole months by not (as they could in law) forcing the allocated school to take my child in but they could fine any one of us for taking a child out of school for a weeks holiday.

SarahAndFuck Thu 26-Sep-13 00:43:36

If you are an armed forces family and the parent in the forces has leave in term time (such as before, during or after a deployment) then your local authority may have made an exception for your child to take authorised leave to spend time with that parent, either at home or on holiday.

You can request a copy of their policy to find out, and this link for service children in state schools might help too.

WinterWinds Thu 26-Sep-13 00:57:47

My dc's schools (one primary, one secondary, both run by the same trust) sent a letter out last week, no holidays will be authorised and the fine will be £60 per parent per child for any holidays taken in term time. This is for the period of the holiday and not on a daily basis

Fines also given for high number of unauthorised absences, any more than 20 days then you risk losing your place at the school.

Also stated that any absence at all, for whatever reason (including illness) will be at the schools discretion as to whether it will be authorised or not.

meditrina Thu 26-Sep-13 06:59:55

"really meditrina? but then holidays arent 'exceptional' I guess..."

Whether a holiday is exceptional is entirely up to your HT. The old legislation did not give any right to a holiday, the new version simply doesn't mention holidays at all.

The only guidance which mentions holidays is in the Military Covenenat document, which urges (but does not compel) HTs to authorise leave if a parent is returning from operations. And this is up to the HT, not the LEA (if SarahandFuck's LEA are saying that, they are talking well beyond their actual powers).

Of course, the likeliest explanation is that HTs want to see pupils in school for the whole 190 days, unless ill.

wonkylegs Thu 26-Sep-13 07:38:13

I was annoyed by the LEA dragging it's feet to organise DSs new school after we moved. They said that we may hear about it 2 weeks after term started despite starting the process months before and in the same letter warning me that unauthorised absences would be fined!
DS did start school on time because I ignored the LEA and approached nagged the school.
Common sense seems to have left all sorts of walks of life and here seems to have been replaced by double standards.
I don't agree that holidays should be able to be taken in term time however I do believe that HTs should be able to use discretion. Life is unpredictable and individual circumstances vary a lot. The latest interpretation of the rules seems to remove the common sense approach of using discretion of individual circumstances.
Policies on sick notes are often daft or illogical and are heading to be a real drain on overstretched NHS facilities. CP, D&V etc are all very valid and logical reasons for keeping a child off school that don't require a GP visit (in fact as they are communicable they should be kept out of the drs waiting room where possible)
One size fits all is rarely a good policy, it is however easy/lazy solution.

Sixtiesqueen Thu 26-Sep-13 20:26:54

We live near Manchester. When DD1 was in Y2 we asked for a Friday off to take her to London because they were studying the great fire as part of the curriculum. Of course, children who live in or close to the capital have the advantage of being able to picture the city, mine don't.

The HT would not authorise the time off. DD had a great day anyway and loved this topic. As far as I can see, we were being supportive of the curriculum. We will take her to Hampton Court when they study the Tudors, she will be 'off sick' that day.

The end of summer term is a joke. Last year they spent their time watching DVDs. I want to pull the school up on this next time it happens.

jasminerose Thu 26-Sep-13 20:32:20

It definitely isnt even slightly denting the amount of people taking term time holidays, still miles cheaper.

gerait Sat 11-Jan-14 12:41:01

Wow loads of trolls here, some just making arguments for no reason, mostly I have seen the trolls in favour for fines and no holidays for working classes, Middle class trolls?

Also just for fun go on the Wiltshire council website this is explaining the fines directly quoted off

"What is the cost?

The penalty is £120 per child per parent it paid within 28 days, the is reduced to £60 per child per parent if paid within the first 21 days.

If you do not pay the fine within 28 days the local authority has no option but to prosecute you in the Magistrates’ Court. This could lead to a fine of up to £1000 per parent per child."

Is this meant to show us what going to school and not being absent does to your brain? I am no English language expert (tbh i am quite bad at it) but I tried to read the fist sentence out loud to my partner and stopped at "it". Yes just two mistakes but on the council website explaining fines for not being at school?

gaba Tue 14-Jan-14 13:27:00

My kids have spent 6 months off school, because there are no schools available in my area...

Can I send a fine to my LEA, because they cannot get their finger out of it , or doesn't it work that way?

It's funny 6 months no school and the truancy ticket warden has only called once, I goaded her a little on the phone, and she hasn't bothered since.

Funny how when its their fault they don't get so excited about how unacceptable missing just one days education is.

luckyjazz Thu 23-Jan-14 11:27:06

This doesn't apply here in Scotland (yet) thank goodness, but just wondering for everyone stating that a holiday is not educational why do most of the schools in my area have a Primary 7 trip for a week to Disneyland or similar?

Surely the school must feel this is an educational trip or why would they be going??

Shiny2508 Mon 10-Mar-14 07:12:09

There are some very naive comments on here. I know a few teachers that have been 'ill' for a week in order to take a cheap holiday! What about the educational days lost due to their strike action which in turn leads to added expense for the parent who either has to pay for child care or take an a day off work, usually unpaid!

Morgause Mon 10-Mar-14 07:15:22

I don't know of any teachers who would do that, Shiny. Far too easily checked up on.

Plus, it isn't teachers who decided to fine parents, it was the government. No point in moaning at the teachers. Have a word with Michael Gove if you think it's wrong.

Pooka Mon 10-Mar-14 07:17:20

Why do you think that's relevant?

It's not the teachers coming down hard on absence for holidays. It's not the teachers enforcing penalty charges or
Imposing them. It's a central government decision.

So your assertion that teachers pull a sickie to go on holiday (which I've never come across at the dc's school) or that they go on strike willy nilly has nothing to do with the use of penalty charges to 'punish' term time absence.

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