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Dd's school refusing time off

(78 Posts)
Susiesue61 Fri 27-May-16 18:19:53

I may be being precious here but would welcome some advice!
Dd is 14 and plays her sport at county U15 level. She has really impressed over winter training and made her full women's county debut this month 😀
We have always asked school to authorise he days off to play, and in the past 2 years it hasn't been a problem. This year, her head of year emailed to say they would only authorise the days if she made more effort in lessons, and I have been into school and we have improved things greatly. I also had an email from the attendance officer saying the head had approved the dates subject to how many.

The week after half term is school exam week, and the way it falls, there are 3 games. I asked school to allow her to play some if not all, but they have refused point blank to let her play any. At the moment, she wants to make this sport her career, in some way, and school is just an inconvenience! I do make sure that she does all her homework and revises for exams.
If I let her play and she has it as an unauthorised absence, what are the consequences for that? I don't want to ruin our relationship with school - Dd has never been on the head's radar, and I don't want her to be marked out as a nuisance.

She plays for lots of the school's teams, often when she doesn't really want to, and I feel there should be a bit of give and take.

dodobookends Fri 27-May-16 19:07:40

If this could jeopardise her place on the team, then something needs to be done.

Is there someone connected with the County team or her sports coach who could contact the school and explain on her behalf?

What about the head of the school PE department? They are usually very keen on sporting success - can they put in a word for her and tell them that this refusal could have an impact on her career aspirations?

Wolfiefan Fri 27-May-16 19:11:06

She sees school as in inconvenience? Is she behaving badly in class? Not getting work done?

balia Fri 27-May-16 19:15:20

I'm really, really surprised they have let you take her out of school for this at all, to be honest! Don't you see that as give and take?

Susiesue61 Fri 27-May-16 19:34:42

Wolfie, she doesn't love school no. Not every child is academic, she likes to be up doing (preferably doing sport) She's not badly behaved but chatty and a bit lazy. We have addressed this and she is doing much better.
Balia, the schools are generally ok with this , yes. The games are unfortunately midweek, and we've had no bother before. If I said she could never miss school, she wouldn't be able to be in the squad at all.

WreckingBallsInsideMyHead Fri 27-May-16 19:36:05

If it's during exam week I can understand them saying no.

She's so young, yes she's really good at this sport now and is doing well, but anything can happen. Teenagers do lose interest in things (as do adults), and unfortunately injuries can ruin a sporting career before it's really begun. Is there a real career path in the sport? Or would she have to be elite athlete to make money? What about coaching etc? Is she likely to need a part time job alongside the sport, for a while st least?

School is not optional. If she gets decent GCSEs, 5 A*-C including maths and English ideally, then she has SO many more options open to her!

School have worked with her to allow her to play, but some things like exams are unavoidable and she has to prioritise school then. Her coach/team should understand that by having a young player, they will have to let her miss some games because of her education.

NatashaRomanoff Fri 27-May-16 19:40:45

Actually school is optional. Are you able to consider home schooling, OP?

dodobookends Fri 27-May-16 19:46:25

Schools should support students' career aspirations whether they are academic subjects or not IMHO. There are many youngsters out there who are extremely talented at what they do (sports, performing arts, music etc), and are good enough for it to be a professional career. Most of those careers require a huge commitment and long hours of training from a young age.

balia Fri 27-May-16 20:06:32

I'm sure there are many teachers who would agree with you, dodo but what schools should do and what they are allowed to do are very different things. The pressure on schools to improve attendance figures has increased dramatically over the last few years and regulations have been tightened. As far as I know, there is no provision in the current government attendance regulations that allows for regular time off to play a sport that isn't organised by the school. The nearest thing to it would be under child 'performers' and a local authority license has to be obtained.

lljkk Fri 27-May-16 20:08:02

How do other under 15 kids get time off for this sport?
So that's yr10... what are her predicted grades in Math & English?

Susiesue61 Fri 27-May-16 20:20:47

She's year 9. Maths probably an A, English she struggles but we're doing our best with extra online spelling etc. Have asked school for help with no reply!!
I don't expect them to say yes, have all the days off, but maybe one would be reasonable. Other schools seem to be fine. Once they get to U17, the games don't start till after the GCSEs.
Thank you for all the replies, I am maybe being a bit unreasonable and need to consider whether to challenge them (again,) or not

Mumoftwoyoungkids Fri 27-May-16 20:28:32

My BIL was a full senior international at 14. School were very good about letting him have the time off. But he had to do his bit. Which was to have exemplary behaviour for every hour he spent in school. And to kill himself keeping up with work when he wasn't.

At 15 he signed for a full professional team involving flying to Europe every weekend. He studied on the plane.

Despite missing more than half of his GCSE year he got 9 A*- Cs. And then took a couple of A levels (got a grade A at one) whilst being basically a full time professional.

5 weeks after he took his last A level exam he won a Commonwealth medal. He then did Open university courses whilst playing full time.

Despite all that by 27 he realised that he couldn't support himself, his wife and the children they wanted by playing. So he cut down on playing and got a job related to his qualifications. I now have a beautiful niece. grin

If she wants to be a professional sportswoman then she needs to get school on her side. She needs to show the discipline it takes to be a true champion. She also needs to accept that for every "wannerbe" who makes it there are 100 who didn't. (My Dh is one - ex junior international but couldn't make the senior team.) And even if you do make it, it will not last forever. You need to have a Plan B.

228agreenend Fri 27-May-16 20:35:05

I can understand the school saying no during exam week. The team should understand that if they sign on an U15, then they will also,have academic commitments. In the next two years, she will be doing GCSEs, so they are likely to refuse more games.

dodobookends Fri 27-May-16 20:37:19

balia Yes, there is provision - it is called something like 'approved sporting activity' and is on the list of reasons for authorised absences they can choose from.

balia Fri 27-May-16 20:47:13

Approved sporting activity is only for activities run by someone authorised by the headteacher, as far as I know.

WaspsandBeesSting Fri 27-May-16 20:54:55

I agree with mumoftwo

My BIL experience is very similar to that which she has described.

He also played professionally and represented the country numerous times.

Your DD does need to get her school on side and work when she is there.

GlacindaTheTroll Fri 27-May-16 21:03:19

It's seriously crap of the sport's governing body to arrange that number of county-level teenage fixtures in one of the busiest exam weeks (loads of secondaries have them the week after half term).

I hope it also being pointed out to them how many problems would be avoided if they held these fixtures in half-term

Wolfiefan Fri 27-May-16 21:06:20

She's chatty and a bit lazy? Well maybe they feel she needs to focus on school.
Not every kid is academic but that doesn't mean they can avoid work and disrupt the class.
Is it exam time?
What's her attendance like?
My DS recently had two days out for a sporting thing. It was a one off and he works well and has excellent attendance.

meditrina Fri 27-May-16 21:08:53

Sporting activity can be approved and code P is used on the register. The actual guidance says:

"Code P: Participating in a supervised sporting activity
This code should be used to record the sessions when a pupil is taking part in a sporting activity that has been approved by the school and supervised by someone authorised by the school."

It covers school fixtures, and can usually be easily extended to other tournaments run by known organisations (who will, at least, log attendance and have a safeguarding policy).

raspberryrippleicecream Fri 27-May-16 21:29:20

My DS is on Y8 and missed most of his exams in March. Two days were to compete in a Music Festival and one day school took him out to compete in a Maths Challenge. It was fine. He also has time authorised off for other music related stuff occasionally, including 2 days with a performance licence recently. I appreciate Y9 is a year nearer external exams but can't see the problem in missing internal exams

dodobookends Fri 27-May-16 21:50:10

My dd had a lot of time off for her activity in Y10 & 11 and it was approved by the school. They even said at one point that she could always retake her GCSE's if necessary (it wasn't) but she would never get this opportunity again. She's now in full-time training for her chosen career.

Devilishpyjamas Sat 28-May-16 07:00:47

Is that something that needsa licence? If it does then a licence can be granted even without the head's permission (despite the bit in it asking the head to sign). I know licensing from a performing arts perspective rather than sporting, so don't know whether you would need it.

We had some problems with school agreeing ds2 could be in a professional show. The head gave permission & the licence was granted & then when I got the rehearsal dates it went to head of house who said no. 2 hours before the first rehearsal (this was for a west end show) I still didn't have permission. I emailed them & said I was taking him permission or not as missing the first rehearsal would look shockingly bad & then they gave permission about an hour later (& for the second time).

Do school understand the significance of what she is doing? In the case above it didn't help that the school seemed to think he was in the local panto and couldn't quite get that he was a large part in a very big show. grin Once they cottoned onto that (which was half way through the run), they became a lot more supportive.

Susiesue61 Sat 28-May-16 08:27:15

My irritation is that we have been polite and asked the school's permission all along. They have had the dates for 2 months but only this week said that they won't authorise those dates.
I can't decide whether to challenge them and take her out anyway if they say no (which I don't want to do!) or just tell Dd she can't play. That would leave her missing more than a third of the county matches this season which seems a lot. As far as I am aware, none of the other girls have had this issue. And if it's because of her behaviour, they need to tell me that's the reason, as I don't allow any of my DC to mess around in school!!

dodobookends Sat 28-May-16 08:56:52

If she's going to miss a third of county matches, then it could seriously affect whether or not she keeps her place on the team.

This sort of thing seriously bugs me - it eventually dawned on me that the school was not really interested in dd's extra-curricular aspirations as an individual and giving her the support she needed to make a go of things. They were chiefly interested in attendance records and exam marks and what was best for them rather than what was best for her. After all, the whole point of school is to equip students for their future career, it is not an end in itself. We spent several years in an on-going struggle, but the school did eventually 'get' it.

OP it is only going to get more difficult over the next few years as she starts her GCSE work and it needs to be tackled head-on now.

The only other thing is that you and your dd need to sit down and really talk about school, and that you need them on your side. It is vital that she has a Plan B in case things don't work out as she wants, and she will have to get decent qualifications. There is always a chance that she won't be able to carry on, whether through long-term injury, changing her mind, finding that possibly she isn't in the very top drawer after all, whatever. Even with the best-laid plans things can go wrong. She'll need reasonable GCSE results because otherwise other possibilities just won't be open to her.
It also helps if the school know she is doing her level best as they will look more kindly on time off etc. It's hard - training at this level means they are physically and mentally exhausted most of the time, and then have to cope with school and homework on top.

(There were one or two occasions when I told my dd's school that she would be doing x regardless of whether it was authorised or not so they might just as well authorise it anyway).

AugustaFinkNottle Sat 28-May-16 09:03:11

I don't understand what on earth the sports body is doing allowing matches to be scheduled during school time? Surely they're effectively pushing parents into breaking the law, since (particularly at this age) they can't reasonably expect schools to consent to time off automatically? Does the Department for Education know about this?

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