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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!

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 15-Sep-13 14:49:46

A poster on the Notapushymum website has given me permission to post this here.

She has won the battle & been issued a licence despite the head teacher refusing permission & thought this might be useful to orhers in the same situation.

"What the law says about the license

Dear all,
I would like to point out something very important that happen to me and that might be of some use for someone else that might find themselves in the same situation. As someone of you might remember my dd was offered the chance to be cast in the ensemble for Emil and the Detective at the National Theatre. Great was my despair when the school wrote a letter saying that they have in their prospectus the rule that they don't allowed time off for performing arts in any format and for any time of period doesn't matter how short. Even more so when the lady at LEA told me that she woudn't go against the school and wouldn't give the license and the Children Administrator for the theatre was convinced there wasn't much that was possible to do. I decided to read very carefully what the law says about it and see it for myself. Then I wrote a letter to LEA, which took me almost a week, that I will copy here to share with you and for future reference.

I am happy to say that against all the odds I received the license yesterday. I might say that I am very proud of it and consider it a victory for all the parents of performing children and possibly a milestone in the Children Performers's License history

I have to stress that whoever will follow this path is going to have a bumpy ride and the school might get nasty and although it sounds like a straightforward process you still have to tailor made it so it works for you (who to call, when to call, what to say, always polite, which documents if any do you need to attach to make your letter more informative and deciding). Anyway, here is the letter>

Dear Ms xxx,

Thank you for taking the time to talk with me last xxxx. As discussed with you, I believe the Children Administrator for the xxx, will be applying for a licence for my daughter xxx xxxx to participate in their production xxxx on stage at the xxxx from xxxx to xxxx, with rehearsals starting on xxxx

Attached is the letter from Mr xxxx, Headteacher for xx's school xxxx, stating that they will not allow authorised time off school to pupils who ask to take part in Performing Arts. This decision is taken without considering if the child is on target (if not above) with the national standards for academic results, or for number of absent days, and also without taking into consideration the educational benefits of the project neither the professional opportunity which is recognised by one of the biggest industries in London and the fact of how useful later on this will be when applying to a University (such as a course in English and Drama at Queen Mary) or for the development of any kind of career in the performing arts (not just acting but in the creative or administrative side of the industry).

The reason for my email/letter is that I fear that Mr xxxx's letter can jeopardise the chance for my daughter to be part of what my husband and I believe is an amazing educational and professional opportunity. Lack of a consistent approach to this matter is a well known problem.

I would like to mention in this instance that your department is a member of The National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE). Citing their website, they are "dedicated to the continual development and implementation of ‘good practice’ issues for children engaged in employment and taking part in public performances". Furthermore they "are also committed to what they believe is the right of children to access opportunity. We recognise that a consistent approach by all local authorities will inevitably lead to providing more, as well as, better outcomes and opportunities for children." They recognise "the difficulties faced by productions where there is a different response in various parts of the country, and can mean that one child may take part and another may not. This is unfair on productions, but more significantly it is unfair to the child." "The so called ‘postcode lottery’, must be extinguished", they say.

I would add that this would be less so if the licensing authorities would make use and enforce the powers that the law grants to them, as per Children and Young Persons Act 1963 chapter 37 (4) : " ... a local authority shall not grant a license for a child to [do anything] unless they are satisfied that he is fit to [do it], that proper provision has been made to secure his health and kind treatment and that, having regard to such provision (if any) as has been or will be made therefor, his education will not suffer; but if they are so satisfied, in the case of an application duly made for a license under this section which they have power to grant, they shall not refuse to grant the license."

The Statutory Instrument that followed the Act, The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968, states chapter 2 (1) "The licensing authority may make such inquiries as they consider necessary to enable them to be satisfied that they should grant a license as required by section 37(4) of the Act, and in particular they may request a report from the head teacher in respect of the child."

It seems to me that the licensing authority, in order to gather all the necessary data to form its valuation on the request, can ask the school a report on the child in respect, presumably, to his/her school's results and number of absences and NOT the school's opinion on Performing Arts.

It seems to me that even in the case where the school could produce poor results and attendance for the pupil (which is absolutely not the case for xxx), still the Local Authority have discretionary judgment on the case and decides (if the request satisfies the conditions imposed by the Act in relation to the welfare and the education of the child) that it is indeed an opportunity for the child not to be missed and license must be granted. In fact, the relevance of the independent judgement of the Local Authority finds confirmation in chapter 39 (6) where it says "Where a local authority refuse an application for a license under section 37 of this Act or revoke or, otherwise than on the application of the holder, vary such a license they shall state their grounds for doing so in writing to the applicant or, as the case may be, the holder of the license; and the applicant or holder may appeal to a magistrates’ court". The right to appeal is against the Local Authority's decision not the school's letter.

I believe the Legislator gave the licensing authority to the Local Education Authority and not to the schools to avoid that different "opinions" could create disparity among the children.

As you can appreciate from this email I feel extremely strongly about the situation I find my daughter in and I will send a hard copy of this email to yourself and to the Children Administrator of the production company in support of the license request.

In Faith"

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 23:19:08

Some local authorities don't even ask the heads permission before issuing the licence.

IneedAsockamnesty Fri 13-Sep-13 22:43:22

Pictures a child performing in a paid performance is the responsibility of the head permission wise however the EWO if so inclined can insist on a tutor being provided.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:45:11

I'm a LA licensed chaperone and so have had to go on a training course with my EWO about it all.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:44:09

However that is for performances & rehearsals only. It doesn't apply to classes, exams or auditions which is up to the head.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:41:57

For children in entertainment it is completely up to the EWO. It's a separate set of legislation.

BoundandRebound Fri 13-Sep-13 17:34:16

EWOs decision to authorise absences? Not in my experience although may be different if already referred and its an LEA EWO I don't know

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:11:21

It's not actually the heads decision bound. The EWO can take the heads feelings into account but the ultimate decision (and licence) comes from the EWO.

The law says there gas to be a good, valid educational reason for the time off to be refused eg. A child is behind in their work or they want to be in a show in the middle if SATS.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:09:04

Interestingly Manchester JAs are on Friday daytimes this year.

BoundandRebound Fri 13-Sep-13 17:08:13

Did you see the attendance officer at the school or an external educational welfare officer, if so were they LEA or contracted privately by school.

It is the heads decision to authorise or not.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:07:37

A friend of dds did panto for two years then Birminghsm Nutcracker the next year. She missed more school with nutcrackerer.

In both you have to miss school for matinees.

RedHelenB Fri 13-Sep-13 17:05:32

This is panto. I think with Northern ballet it might have meant some afternoons but mainly it was evenings & weekends, not school performances so less school missed. Fair enough for op's dd to miss school if that's what she & op want but them being in performances didn't have anything to do with getting into dance school.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 17:02:31

We're not taking our kids out if school willy billy. This is why the licensing process exists. You don't need a licence unless you're missing school or doing more than 4 days in 6 months.

Schools are just getting confused & thinking its the same as authorised holidays.

Our LEA issues the licence anyway.

Picturesinthefirelight Fri 13-Sep-13 16:58:21

So if one of them had been offered say a Royal Ballet or Birminghsm Nutcracker via JA's they'd have turned it down - really?

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.

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

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...

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.

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.

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.

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

Dds attendance last school year was 93%

Maybe that's why the EWO was concerned?

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

Congratulations to her.

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!

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!

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.

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