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Term-time absences banned by Gove? Have you heard anything?

(211 Posts)
FantasticDay Wed 12-Jun-13 13:43:22

Just that really. A colleagues had heard that all schools had received a letter from the Education Minister saying that term-time absences were not to be authorised. I wondered if any of school staff on here could confirm /deny? Cheers.

rabbitstew Fri 08-Nov-13 09:22:55

The whole attendance figures thing is an utter farce. All schools are expected to achieve a minimum attendance percentage. It matters not one jot whether just one or two families are lowering the attendance figures, or whether there is a widespread problem with attendance at the school, it just matters to headteachers who are being judged on those blunt, basic figures that the school does not allow attendance figures to drop below the magic number. If figures do drop below that magic number, then the school has a behaviour problem, apparently, because the statistics say so, and reasonable families with good reasons for absences need to be bullied to solve it, given that the real problem families are not going to change their behaviour, whereas reasonable families can be bullied and harangued; and that's a good thing, because the school can then tick the "we're doing something about this" box. Obviously, they are not, actually, solving the problem with the problem families at all, they are just adding to the problems of people who don't deserve to be dumped on, but that's irrelevant to the box ticking mentality caused by blunt and basic statistical tools.

cory Fri 08-Nov-13 08:28:19

The recent insistence in some schools on doctors' notes for every absence of a chronically ill, frequently ill or disabled child is a very heavy indirect fine. I wonder if HT's really realise how expensive these letters come and what a burden they can be for families who are already financially burdened by illness.

prh47bridge Wed 06-Nov-13 20:26:54

Assuming this is a state school they cannot charge anything if you are absent for treatment. And if they did try to impose a fine it would have to be £60. They can't make up a random amount and impose that.

AllyStarxox10 Wed 06-Nov-13 18:08:42

Highest of all I'm a kid and I know you think that I am posting because I'm saying school sucks but no I'm a kid that needs to go to the hospital for treatment because I have an illness and I really agree because on my mum's phone my mum mesagess

)$:==(::=$ 6h is absent for her treatment
Dear Mrs sad_(+#) that will cost 11.50


Ps it goes along(&+$)$ for names you know the whole no showing personal info online!

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 23:47:27

Anyway, message received loud and clear: some HTs are unnecessarily paranoid about exercising a discretion that really is theirs to use exactly as they see fit until they balls their attendance figures up; and parents are entirely at the mercy of the HT's discretion, if they care one way or the other what the HT thinks or what they might be fined.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 23:33:21

So impossible to provoke you into giving a subjective opinion grin. Anyone would think that would be professionally unwise of you. Have you ever mentioned what your day job is?

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 21:17:55

I did not hide "pressure from Ofsted". I added it in the natural place. Ofsted do not generally take a detailed look at the operation of these regulations in a school being inspected. If the school's absenteeism is in the normal range Ofsted are unlikely to take any interest whatsoever in how the school decides whether or not to grant leave of absence. However if a school has a high level of absenteeism they will take an interest.

There appear to be three reasons for changing the regulations:

- Stopping schools from granting leave of absence retrospectively

- Removing the reference to ten days holiday as many parents seemed to think (incorrectly) this was a right

- Clarifying that the school can remove a pupil from the register if they fail to meet the entry requirements for sixth form, thereby bringing the regulations in line with what actually happens

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 21:06:31

Would love prh47bridge's real views. Does he/she think that it is acceptable for HTs to exercise their discretion in a way that clearly flouts the legislator's intention, because nobody can realistically stop them unless the attendance figures at their school look bad enough to trigger pressure from Ofsted, or they overstep the mark badly with a parent? I shall remember to mention that to our HT if she tries to follow the other local schools' example and ban holidays altogether, or come up with a list of what might count as "exceptional" circumstances - after all, they don't really have to be "exceptional," as nobody can argue with the use of her discretion, however apparently arbitrary. wink

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 17-Jun-13 18:17:08

<applauds prh>

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 18:16:10

So - why the change in the law, then, prh47bridge? What's your take on why the law was changed when the law is so toothless? Isn't that a waste of taxpayers' money, to spend time changing something that doesn't really change anything?

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 18:14:08

The current law allows up to 10 days in special circumstances and that's always worked fine where I am. The law change has got lots of HTs' knickers in a twist.

I love the way you hide "pressure from Ofsted" in the middle of what you say. As I said, political pressure... not the same thing as HTs' free will or true beliefs on any subject.

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 18:08:44

Who do you suggest is going to sue the head teacher and on what grounds? This is not criminal law so you could only sue if you have suffered a loss of some kind that the law is able to redress. The government therefore cannot sue a school for breaching the regulations as they do not have any loss that can be compensated. A parent could try but would have to show that the school's decision is unreasonable and the bar for that is very high, so it is very unlikely the parent would win.

The regulations do not define what is meant by "exceptional circumstances". They simply say that the school should not grant leave of absence other than in exceptional circumstances. It is therefore up to the school to decide what that means. The school can set the bar for that as low or as high as they want. Yes, the regulations are worded in such a way as to imply that the bar should be fairly high but there is no way for the government to enforce that in law. Having said that, most schools already set the bar fairly high and have been moving it higher steadily as they are aware of the damage absences can cause to the pupil's education and they are under pressure from Ofsted to reduce absenteeism.

By the way, I'm surprised you don't want to change the law since you seem to thoroughly object to the current law as well as the change the government is making.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:53:42

Why, thank you, Elibean... smile

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:52:58

And who would have guessed that the law is so weak that a HT can exercise their discretion in a way that appears to flout the spirit of the Regulations under which they are exercising their discretion without anyone being able to call them up on it? Because I would have thought exercising your discretion to allow all term time holiday requests would be doing just that. As would refusing all term time holiday requests before they've even been made...

Elibean Mon 17-Jun-13 17:42:46

great rant by rabbit smile

I cheered (inwardly, dd is having a piano lesson and I'm trying to keep quiet) all the way through.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:37:41

Or am I misinterpreting what prh47bridge has said here, somewhere?...grin Maybe, heaven forbid, HTs do not have quite the degree of discretion claimed, because political pressure is more powerful than the law? shock

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:35:08

... and they haven't changed the law, because the law is it's up to the HT's discretion and nobody can stop a HT from saying that all holidays are exceptional circumstances. hmm

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:33:44

A change in the law that isn't really a change in the law because, apparently, it hasn't changed the law at all, is just IDIOTIC. So the current government are clearly IDIOTS intent on causing unnecessary confusion....

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 17:31:01

My solution: don't change the law in the first place? It's all up to the HT's discretion, after all.

TheDoctrineOfAllan Mon 17-Jun-13 14:59:51

Rabbit stew, what is your solution?

prh47bridge Mon 17-Jun-13 14:53:14

So, who do people appeal to if it is the LA is flouting the law and claiming that schools in its jurisdiction have no discretion with regard to allowing holidays

That is not flouting the law. It is just making a false claim. The claim by the LA is not binding on schools. Schools are entitled to exercise the discretion given to them by law. They can use it to refuse all holidays if they wish. At the other extreme they can use it to allow all holidays. The LA cannot force the school to comply with its wishes.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 12:11:44

But TwasBrillig - don't you understand that one of the main problems with state schools is the lack of discipline and that a fantastic solution would be to get a bit of army discipline in schools from soldiers made redundant from their chosen careers by government cuts?

TwasBrillig Mon 17-Jun-13 11:45:39

I think if my daughter's school was taken over by ex soldiers without degrees it would be the point I start to home school.

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:56:56

And if you employ ex-soldiers without degrees, you'll have all your problems sorted. I just hope they'll be doing good mental health screening, looking for PTSD, first...

rabbitstew Mon 17-Jun-13 09:51:48

Obviously, the minute you become an academy school, you cease to be populated by idiots. grin

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