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To think the EWO is going to give me a hard time tomorrow?

(64 Posts)
Sparklymommy Mon 09-Sep-13 22:05:14

Ok, so my 10 yr old dd is a performer. She wants a career in performing arts, has an agent, likes to work and is an exemplary pupil.

Due to Gove and his controlling attitude we have had some disagreement with the school over school absence. Dd wants to audition for our local panto ( as she enjoyed it last year) and if successful will probably need a few afternoons off school for matinee performances.

Head teacher said, in July, that she can no longer authorise this. Or time off for exams. I seriously considered removing dd from school and home educating but decided, after much soul searching, to try and get clarity from government.

Got a reply early August that children in employment are not affected by changes in the absence laws and exams are fine as they are classed as education off site. Forwarded e-mail to head teacher. Thrilled to bits!

The saga continues! Today, first day back, head tells me the education welfare officer, having read the e-mail, would like a meeting with me. Hence tomorrow we have a meeting at the school.

AIBU thinking that I am going to be made to feel guilty/ in the wrong?

Dd is top of the class for most subjects, above average in everything and has had extra tuition to further improve her English and verbal reasoning for 11+. Even with doing panto, a few auditions, done exams and a week of illness she had 93% attendance last year. She wants a career in the arts and this is, to her, as important as algebra and grammar. We ALWAYS ask for work to be sent home and she has always been a very conscientious student.

Scared I'm gonna get a flaming tomorrow!

RedHelenB Wed 11-Sep-13 12:27:07

Honestly, if she gets work as a performer it will be on how she is at audition, dancing at age 10 on a stage for those purposes is neither here nor there. If she is 10 as in year 6 I can understand why the school is getting twitchy BUT if you feel it is worth while then do it & if it goes down as unauthorised absence so be it.

mummytime Wed 11-Sep-13 13:14:24

If she is working as a performer, surely she has to be licensed by the LA, and if she gets one there are only specific times the school can object (mainly actual GCSE exams). Hasn't her agent dealt with this before?

I know this because my DD falls into a grey area as she is part of a choir, she isn't part of the licensing system, and we have to argue instead that her absences are educational.

Sparklymommy Wed 11-Sep-13 13:50:39

She is licensed for everything she does. Different department within the LEA. We have never had any trouble getting her licensed.

The e-mail I have from central government covers performance and exams, and possibly festivals too actually!

She is year 6, and a very able student. The EWO even said she probably does manage to catch up, but not all children could! She is actually AHEAD in nearly all subjects. The EWOs response when told this? Just because she is advanced doesn't mean she is reaching her full potential!

The trouble is, she is saying that at 10 unauthorised absences they will seek a prosecution. Apparently dd has 6 unauthorised absences in the last six months (due to them not authorising exams and auditions and a performance last term).

She actually did back down eventually and said that should dd be offered a part in panto then they will authorise it, and that she would "look again" at the exams. The exams are accredited, and accrue UCAS points. Therefore I am sure she will have to eat humble pie in the near future!

mummytime Wed 11-Sep-13 13:56:01

It sounds to me as if the school are classifying absences in correctly.
Exams should count as Educational reasons (same as Music exams). Performances are covered by the license. I'm not sure about Auditions.

ProudAS Wed 11-Sep-13 14:14:52

There is a legal obligation for tuition to be provided if children are off school due to being engaged in entertainment although I think that only applies if they are off for 10 days.

Sparklymommy Wed 11-Sep-13 14:21:47

Dds attendance last school year was 93%. He brothers both had 100% attendance.

Dd had four mornings off for exams, 4 sessions off for panto and 1 week off with tonsilitis. She also had 1 afternoon of for a drama festival and 1 day off for an audition. School and the EWO have not taken into account the 1 hour 1 to 1 she has outside of school with a tutor working on 11+ preparation.

I always ask for work to be sent home when she is absent. Usually it isn't forthcoming though!

themightyfandango Wed 11-Sep-13 15:22:09

I would like to think an EWO has more pressing cases to worry about than your clearly high achieving daughter. Seems like a typical situation of gunning for the easy targets. I hope you get it sorted.

iwantanafternoonnap Wed 11-Sep-13 17:10:46

I would see if you can get any information about how much the children that excel at sport and play for the school/county have off. I bet if she excelled at running or a team sport that would make the school look great you wouldn't be getting this hassle.

Sparklymommy Wed 11-Sep-13 19:28:18

iwantanadternoonnap I did ask her about that! grin

I would like to see them targetting the children whose parents just cannot be bothered to send their kids in on a regular basis. But they seem to get away with it all the time. Makes me so cross. She is a hard working child with a good ethic. But apparently that counts for nothing!

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 11-Sep-13 23:55:28

So why are you bothering with fretting?

Do the approach that you know works for you break down the minutes of the meeting into bullet points answer them all with an explanation of the actual rules.

Then email the lot to the head of your local EWO copy in the school and the head of the LA education dept.

And complain about the EWO you met having a total lack of understanding of the rules and not even reading the confirmation you sent her from the gov then ask what they are intending to do to rectify a member of there staff not following or knowing the rules and how are they going to prevent your dd being disadvantaged by the rules not being applied.

Ifcatshadthumbs Thu 12-Sep-13 00:06:12

"Gunning for easy targets" sums this whole absence thing up nicely.

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 12-Sep-13 00:12:26

This is looking like its going to become a real problem

Time off under licence for performance has never counted towards the supposed 10 days off and doesn't count towards this. The EWO should know this. Legally there has to be a good educational reason (such as brung behind in schoolwork) for a licence to be rejected. & you can challenge it in court.

Professional panto is a wonderful experience. My dd learnt so much from it.

Just state the facts, go armed with the info & don't take any bollocks

Good luck.

Picturesinthefirelight Thu 12-Sep-13 00:17:09

Sorry missed the meeting had already taken place

The only absence which could possibly be classed as unauthorised is auditions. Somewhere in thecrehulationscthete is a maximum days off they ate slowed in one year but its a hell of a lot more than 10 days or how would the Matilda/Billy kids get on

cory Thu 12-Sep-13 06:44:42

Not surprised by this. The last EWO who came to see us (when dd was ill) lectured me for 10 minutes on the value of education and then had to ask me for help to fill in her own forms because she couldn't understand the wording and didn't know how to spell her own answers. The value of education, indeed... hmm

Looks like you have all the information you need though, Sparkly, so just put it calmly into bullet points. She'll end up with egg on her face.

RedHelen, surely how you come across in audition later on is very much about experience? And about learning- which is what you do through actually being on stage. If Sparkly's dd applies to stage school, she will also have to go through interview, where again they ask about experience. She will also do a workshop as part of the audition process at most stage schools, and that is very much about movement and being comfortable with teamwork and physicality.

If she was a promising cellist, her parents would want to make sure she got the chance to play in an orchestra; if she was a promising footballer, people wouldn't have any difficulty in understanding that her talent needed to be developed through being in an actual team. Theatre is very much about teamwork skills.

auntpetunia Thu 12-Sep-13 07:36:49

How about replying to whoever sent you the email setting out that everything was covered, and ask them to contact your county and EWO. Specifically to out them straight! Maybe they'll listen to central government. Your. DDs attendance last years sounds wrongly marked as well, 1 week ill doesn't make 93%, the rest should have been authroised.

Sparklymommy Thu 12-Sep-13 08:17:05

Thanks everyone. I would argue that last years attendance was wrongly marked, but unless it gets to the point of them prosecuting me and then I would go armed with all the evidence that proves it was wrongly marked. I am not prepared to have some EWO who isn't following the rules try to stop my daughter doing what is very important to her.

Panto auditions are tonight. grin

What they don't know is that my son is also auditioning grin. I am pretty sure he won't get in as he is only just old enough (birthday was Tuesday) and he is quite small for his age. But he is good and seems to find it easier than his sister to have success so it could be two of them wanting the time off!

Sparklymommy Fri 13-Sep-13 10:12:16

Well, auditions went well. Dd got in, ds didn't (although I was told only because he was so much shorter than the next boy!)

Paperwork taken in to school this morning. Now eagerly awaiting the signing of the papers and them returned to me!

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 11:33:37

Congratulations to her.

WorraLiberty Fri 13-Sep-13 11:41:38

Dds attendance last school year was 93%

Maybe that's why the EWO was concerned?

RedHelenB Fri 13-Sep-13 12:05:13

The point I am making is that these skills come from any involvement in being on stage, does n't necessarily have to come from a panto in school time. And no, getting a part in a west end musical would be purely based on if you were right for the part at that point, not on a cv that said you danced/ sang/ acted in a panto aged 10.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 12:24:27

Of course it would RedHelen

However having known lots of children who have been through the West End audition process the ones who are eventually cast almost always have prior experience building up from panto , tours, smaller parts.

The experience just gives you the edge.

Professional panto is a fabulous experience. My dd gained a lot from doing it. Within a year she had landed a lead role in a touring musical & a year later a place at a full time dance school.

The laws are in place both to protect children working in entertainment & to acknowledge the value of what they do.

It's just that done teachers & EWO's are confusing the two sets if legislation.

SeaSickSal Fri 13-Sep-13 12:34:30

93% is not very good. That's about a day off every two weeks.

Bearing that kind of attendance record in mind I'm not sure that taking her out for extra days is really on at all. If she had a really good attendance record then perhaps, but if she's already off fairly regularly I can understand why they are concerned that you want to add to this.

Wibblypiglikesbananas Fri 13-Sep-13 12:39:13

Did anyone take minutes at the meeting? If not, I'd be writing a very strongly worded email to all and sundry detailing exactly what was said, including naming and shaming the EWO for clearly not having a clue. I'd also be highlighting the fact that they completely wasted your time by requesting that you attend a meeting they hadn't in fact bothered to prepare for.

Can't stand the whole nanny state, people can't make sensible choices for themselves approach. Your daughter is clearly flourishing. If you still get no joy, I'd consider a solicitor specialising in education. I know that sounds extreme, but council jobsworths usually back off as soon as an official looking letter lands on their desk...

roamer2 Fri 13-Sep-13 14:18:10

I think this is to do with the tightening up of authoprised absences that has been sneaked in:

School sent home a note this week saying that the county council (or in other words Michael Gove) now says that children cannot be taken out of school and even if they are ill that is to be managed within school as far as possilbe. If there is exceptionally good reason (i.e. relative abroad is dying) they may have one holiday per key stage

RedHelenB Fri 13-Sep-13 16:43:32

Well the three girls at dds dance school who I know who have got scholarships to top dance schools/stage school managed to do so without missing school and managed to find performance opportunities at weekends/evenings.

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