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Asking for exceptional leave from school

(6 Posts)
AussieMum53 Tue 25-Feb-14 10:53:01

I have recently been denied leave to take my son out of school to visit my very old and ailing mother in Australia. He has not seen her for 2 years and I can't afford to take him during the summer holidays as the price sky-rockets. It is not a family 'holiday' as such as my husband will not be coming due to cost and work commitments. I know the regulations for allowing parents to take their children out of school during term time recently changed and I understand the difficult position Mr Gove has put the headteachers in. But as there is no complete definition of 'exceptional circumstances' I thought the headteacher could use her discretion on a case by case basis. But no, and not only that but I have been informed that we will be fined £60 per parent, £120! Has anyone any advice on challenging this this decision?

LiegeAndLief Tue 25-Feb-14 11:58:57

I'm afraid I have no advice but I know a family who had a similar problem with travelling to Australia. Apparently the head was quite sympathetic but said they were not allowed by the LEA to authorise and it would have to go down as unauthorised. I think there could be some variation across the country depending on the LEA.

it's really shitty though, I'm all in favour of children being in school but am very anti this curtailing of the head's discretion.

BellBottomBlues Tue 25-Feb-14 12:09:56

The head is allowed to authorise it.They are the only ones that can, actually.

Saying they cannot is just a dodge.

Ask the head what (s)he would consider to be 'exceptional'

Sorry to hear about your mum.

YuccanLiederHorticulture Tue 25-Feb-14 12:23:35

The cost difference between going in the school term and going in the hols is way more than £120, and even going in the term time this amount will only be about 10% of what you will be spending on the trip (I'd guess). So, just grin and bear it and pay the fine. Sorry your mum is ill.

I think tbh the school absence fines are going to backfire and will be seen as a legitimate cost of going on holiday when you want to. See this article for research on how introducing fines for collecting children from nursery late actually causes lateness to INCREASE as parents feel they are now legitimately paying for something they want.

fluffycarpets Tue 25-Feb-14 12:49:29

a secretary at our school yesterday was telling me about an extremely anxious dad who had to take his son out for several weeks to fly home to asia to see his ailing father. the head would not authorise and the dad was in a panic. he kept coming into the office, terrified that the 'unauthorised' would translate into some kind of awful action. in the end the secretary just told him to stop worrying, ignore the paperwork and just go (which he did). 120 pounds is not as much as the summer price hike.

prh47bridge Tue 25-Feb-14 12:56:48

As others have said the head's discretion has not been curtailed. The head can use her discretion on a case by case basis. Some heads are using the change in regulations to impose a blanket ban on absence and blame Gove or the LA. It is their decision. Indeed, a blanket ban may actually be illegal.

Remind the head that she is allowed to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended by the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013. Paragraph 1A of regulation 7 is the relevant part of the 2006 regulations. Quoting the legislation at her may make her realise that she can't bluff and say she doesn't have discretion.

If your head remains intransigent use your school's complaints procedure. That will allow you to complain to the governors about the head's refusal (although you may need to go through one or two steps first). If the governors won't intervene you may be able to complain to the LA if it is a community school and you can definitely complain to the EFA if it is an academy.

On the question of fines, your LA will have a code of practice saying when fines will be imposed. That will set the amount of absence required to attract a fine. It may be that your visit to Australia will be short enough to avoid any fine.

The fact your son hasn't seen his grandmother for 2 years may count against you in getting this authorised. The head may take the view that your son isn't particularly close to his grandmother so doesn't need to rush out to Australia to see her. You need to play up any contact your son does have with his grandmother and emphasise how close they are (assuming that is true).

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