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AIBU to be pissed off with this letter from the school re: DS(6) absence?

(103 Posts)
DancingLola Thu 13-Feb-14 18:29:14

My grandmother (so DS's great-grandmother) passed away at the end of January, and her funeral was arranged for Tuesday this week. I told DS's teacher last week that he would be off school to attend it, and wrote a quick letter to the HT saying the same.

Today he handed me a letter when I picked him up from the HT that stated they received my request for permission for him to be absent, that they were keen to optimise his leaning opportunities and that there are 190 days allocated for school holidays & family activities and they urge families to arrange everything within those days to avoid the possibility of a fine. However, on this occasion they can authorise 1 days absence to attend the funeral and offer their sincere condolences at our loss.

This has really pissed me off, as I didn't actually ask for permission in the first place! I told them he would be absent, and in all honestly I didn't care whether it was marked as authorised or not. I know that rules have changed and it's rare to authorise a day blah blah blah, but this was for a funeral - hardly a fun day out! IMO all they needed to say was we received your letter, and can confirm that we will mark him as authorised absent for the day. I didn't need irrelevant facts about 190 days of the year for holidays and family activities - a funeral doesn't come under either of those. I'm guessing it's a general template that they work from, but even so, it just seems insensitive to me.

I can't tell if I'm BU about this, Tuesday was an exceptionally hard day (not least arriving at the cemetery to find the grave hadn't been dug) and my moods have been up & down so I don't want to create a mountain out of a molehill, but part of me does want to complain. This is the first day he's ever had off school since starting in Reception, so it's not like I make a habit of taking him out.


AngelaDaviesHair Thu 13-Feb-14 18:32:25

No, you're not. They don't get to decide whether he goes, only whether they consider it authorised or unauthorised. Feels rather like usurping your parental authority.

SauvignonBlanche Thu 13-Feb-14 18:33:27

How about:
Thank you for your reminder that here are 190 days allocated for family activities. I will ask my family members to only die in the school holidays in future. hmm

WorraLiberty Thu 13-Feb-14 18:33:43

I'm sorry for your loss thanks

These are standard letters and whilst I agree with the content, they shouldn't be sent to people requesting authorised absences for funerals...that's just crass and insensitive.

But the fact is, whether you tell them your child won't be attending school or whether you ask them, it still goes down as a request.

That's just the system they have and it's dictated by the DFE.

Nomama Thu 13-Feb-14 18:35:19

Definitely go with ^^

It is wonderful smile

Sorry, that is a tad unthinking.... my condilences on your loss (send the letter)

harticus Thu 13-Feb-14 18:37:21

But let it go.
You don't need additional stress. Schools can be a royal pain in the arse.
I am sorry to hear of your grandmother.

SingMoreWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Feb-14 18:39:00

YANBU. I would be really pissed off with that letter.

I'm a sarky sort and i'd probably reply with a scrupulously polite letter to the head, stating that, thank you for the letter etc etc but it was unnecessary as I was not requesting permission but informing you that my child would be absent. And then add on the bit from the other poster, that in the interests of supporting your dc's learning you will henceforth instruct any family members to only die within the 190 days permitted by the school.

Sorry for your loss op.

EduCated Thu 13-Feb-14 18:44:55

What Worra said. The pressure on schools around attendance is ridiculous, and I'm not surprised that some of them have gone OTT with it all, but it doesn't excuse the insensitivity of that letter.

However it's probably not worth kicking up a fuss about. Just give the letter a ceremonious ripping up and dump it in the recycling.

breatheslowly Thu 13-Feb-14 18:47:50


I'd be really pissed off with that. I'd want to send a sarky response, but I think you should actually send a letter back explaining that the preamble was unnecessary and crass in the circumstances and suggest that they amend their standard template to be more sensitive in cases of bereavement and other difficult circumstances.

Not to belittle your bereavement, but that letter could go out for any bereavement - siblings, parents etc.

CoffeeTea103 Thu 13-Feb-14 18:49:59

Yanbu, sorry about your loss thanks

NewtRipley Thu 13-Feb-14 18:52:10


I think it's worth pointing out to them that the letter should be worded more carefully.

DancingLola Thu 13-Feb-14 19:37:52

Phew, so not just me being a bit over-sensitive then!

In the grand scheme of things it's not that important, but I've been mentally composing sarcastic replies since I read it. SauvignonBlanche that was the first thing I said!

I've never complained to the school about anything before, but I really think they need to reconsider their template letters in these situations. Fine if it's being used to refuse authorisation for a day trip to Alton Towers or something, but under these circumstances it's not really appropriate to mention the 190 days allocated for holidays/family activities or fines as neither should apply.

breatheslowly that crossed my mind too.

I think I'll mull it over a bit tonight before I compose a response as I'm a bit too ragey right now to be coherent.

SingMoreWhenYoureWinning Thu 13-Feb-14 19:46:22

That's what you should write:

I've never complained to the school about anything before, but I really think you need to reconsider your template letters in these situations. Fine if it's being used to refuse authorisation for a day trip to Alton Towers or something, but under these circumstances it's not really appropriate to mention the 190 days allocated for holidays/family activities or fines as neither should apply.

SeaSickSal Thu 13-Feb-14 19:50:58

YANBU, very, very rude.

CrispyFB Thu 13-Feb-14 19:57:23

Definitely raise it as an issue.. whilst I'd also be tempted to do it sarcastically as others have suggested above grin I suspect they're more likely to make changes if you address the issue directly.

DancingLola Thu 13-Feb-14 20:56:53

I think a little sarcasm is likely to work its way in, but I'll try to remain quite factual about why the letter isn't appropriate & encourage them to look at a new template.

CaptainTripps Thu 13-Feb-14 21:04:39

Unbelievable and crass and so very stupid.

Ask for a quick meeting with HT and say what the others have advised in person. Basically what singmore said to say - but face to face. The HT will listen. Trust me!

WorraLiberty Thu 13-Feb-14 21:39:50

Yes I would definitely write that letter OP

Then give it to the head teacher and if you get no joy there, send it to the chair of governors.

Redcliff Thu 13-Feb-14 22:14:41

YANBU - I took my son off school for 3 weeks when DPs beloved grandmother died on the other side of the world so we could both go with him to support him. I just told the school we were going and they were lovely about it. No letter and I was hacked of when his end of year report had a comment from the headmaster about getting DSs attendance up. I would have not been happy about that letter - do people not read letters before they go out ?

EduCated Thu 13-Feb-14 22:15:45

Actually, I take back my previous comment about not kicking up a fuss, and agree you should send a later based on that paragraph in your previous post.

DancingLola Thu 13-Feb-14 23:01:40

This is what the letter said (obvs without names, though they spelt DS's incorrectly anyway!)

^Dear 'DancingLola'

I have received your request for permission for 'minidancing' to be absent from school on 11th February 2014.

In line with the Department of Education and London Borough of Hillingdon guidelines I am keen to optimise the learning opportunities for your child.

There are 190 days per year allocated for school holidays and family activities. I would urge all families to arrange everything within those days to avoid the possibility of a Fixed Penalty fine by the Education Welfare Officer.

However, on this occasion, I will be able to authorize 1 day's absence to attend his Great-grandmother's funeral. May we offer you our sincere condolences at your loss.

Yours sincerely


The more I read it, the more angry I get actually! I'm a bit concerned that I wouldn't keep my cool meeting face to face (plus next week is half term) so I think I'll have to do it by letter.

LindyHemming Thu 13-Feb-14 23:02:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

coolcookie Thu 13-Feb-14 23:05:19

I took my children out to attend my mum's funeral. I advised them verbally. During the wake I received a phone call asking me why they weren't at school. The message hadn't been tranferred to register.
Sounds like a standard copy and paste letter op. Very insensitive.

edamsavestheday Thu 13-Feb-14 23:06:05

How crass. Do please point out the stupidity and insensitivity of this letter. Sorry about your grandmother.

ivykaty44 Thu 13-Feb-14 23:10:47

Every day is a learning day and administration in school need to learn when to not send out crass and insensitive letters about relatives not holding funerals in the 190 school days to students attending a funeral of a loved one and they need to learn that behaving in this way will created a very high barrier in the school parent relationship

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