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depressing holiday fines story...

(17 Posts)
satinpillowcase Sun 05-Jul-15 21:36:17

www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jul/05/couple-faces-court-children-term-time-absence-school-sick-grandfather

Notcontent Sun 05-Jul-15 22:04:07

It is depressing and makes me angry.

The fact is that there are some feckless parents who don't care about their childrens education, and this is whom this policy is directed at. But all it is doing really is putting parents in impossible situations. It is also grossly unfair because lots of schools are still taking a much more reasonable and sensible approach.

Sunflower123456 Mon 06-Jul-15 10:35:14

Our daughter was unwell with severe eczema flares, and we took her out three days before the Christmas break. The head at the Nottingham Girls High school immediately reported us to the social services. The case against us was dropped by the SS on the same day, after contacting us on the phone. The problem is that a few heads tend to abuse their powers.

Heels99 Mon 06-Jul-15 10:39:13

How loNg were the children off?
Why didn't they just pay th fine then they wouldn't be in court?

AuntieStella Mon 06-Jul-15 10:41:30

agree with previous posters about headteachers.

The buck stops with their HT, who knows them and to whom they could explain in person. HT still declined to authorise, even though in law they can.

It doesn't say how long they took the DC out for, but there is an unpaid fine of £480, and you can be imprisoned for non-payment (thanks to Mr Blair's govt for introducing it for this).

ReallyTired Mon 06-Jul-15 10:50:02

Sunflower,
Ask for your post to be deleted as you are likely to out yourself and your daughter by mentioning her school.

I feel that should be a better appeals procedure when absence is not authorised. I feel so sorry for the Indian family who have to go through this at a time of grief. Clearly the head teacher and lea are devoid of basic compassion.

I feel that the authorities should clamp down on parents who take their children shopping during school hours.

chickenfuckingpox Mon 06-Jul-15 12:35:34

there should be an outside school body who is responsible for deciding if an absence is justified or not that way the school can keep their relationship with the parents rather than a situation where people are blaming the headteachers and saying they have too much power it breeds mistrust in the system and leads to an us against them scenario where the children's education could be disrupted if the parents get hugely offended and remove them from the school

VikingVolva Mon 06-Jul-15 12:45:22

Oh dear. I don't like the idea of an outside body one little bit. The school, who knows the family, is much more likely to make the right call.

Yes, it requires HTs with integrity, but that's a quality I hope they would have anyhow.

Heels99 Mon 06-Jul-15 14:31:23

We have no idea how long this Family took off, it could have been weeks. I wonder why if they went in December they couldn't have gone in Xmas holidays?

cuntycowfacemonkey Mon 06-Jul-15 14:38:59

Hmmm I think what is unfair is that because it is at the head teachers discretion still then there is an inconsistency as to who is fined and who isn't. I know at our school term time holidays are not authorised but no one has been fined. Seems unfair that whether or not you will get fined is pot luck depending on where you go to school.

Sunflower123456 Mon 06-Jul-15 16:29:39

When we realised that there could be a fine, after the phone call from the SS, we contacted the Nottinghamshire County Council, and they advised us in order to abide the law, we had to send the HT a letter that we took our daughter out early for home education. We did that, and there was no drama afterwards.

ReallyTired, we withdrew our daughter from that horrible school shortly afterwards, because they didn't care about our DC's medical needs.

BrilliantDayForTheRace Mon 06-Jul-15 17:54:42

At my school, the HT gets dozens of (literally) identical requests for leave for a trip back to India to see an elderly sick relative.

The HT has absolutely no way of knowing which cases are genuine and which aren't. So he has to turn them all down, unless he has very good reason to think they're genuine.

ICantFindAFreeNickName2 Mon 06-Jul-15 19:07:52

Our Educational Welfare Officer, is the one who tends to make the final decision, in cases like that. There have been a few times when our HT has authorised holiday and she has said he's been too lenient.

As BrilliantDay says - at our school we get loads of requests for absences for families to go home to India to see a very sick relative every year. It is very difficult to tell which are genuine. I'm very suspicious about the ones that request the time off several months in advance.

tiggytape Mon 06-Jul-15 19:20:29

there should be an outside school body who is responsible for deciding if an absence is justified or not that way the school can keep their relationship with the parents rather than a situation where people are blaming the headteachers and saying they have too much power

It just wouldn't be feasible. They'd have to be an independent panel who hear all the evidence. And an appeal process if the parents think the panel disregarded important facts and an ultimate step beyond that if the appeal panel were found to have acted incorrectly. The money and time scales required would be vast.

And HT's don't work in isolation anyway. In theory they hold the power to reject or allow requests but in practice they cannot make lenient decisions (eg allowing weeks and weeks away to visit an ill relative abroad or a holiday in term time to save money) without this coming to the attention of the council or those who are responsible for ensuring the law is followed.

Hmmm I think what is unfair is that because it is at the head teachers discretion still then there is an inconsistency as to who is fined and who isn't.
Each council is obliged to provide a document that says exactly how it will enforce the law. I haven't seen any zero tolerance councils. Most say a fine will be applied after 5 days missed. So children who leave early before half term may not be fined for a 'first offence' in that council's area whereas those taking a whole school week can be. It isn't the HT who decides who gets let off the fine

cuntycowfacemonkey Mon 06-Jul-15 19:32:51

That's interesting tiggytape but I still think there is an inconsistency that is not fair. We took more than five days and have not been fined - lucky for us but unfair to others who have received the fine.

tiggytape Mon 06-Jul-15 22:45:33

Well yes that's true. However, it is the same with most other fixed penalty offences (which is what the attendance comes under - it is a criminal offence which can be dealt with by fixed penalty notice).
For example some drivers caught doing 35 in a 30 will get 3 points and a fine whilst, in other counties, they may only get a speed awareness course and no points at all. Those with the points and the fine may find that unfair.

cuntycowfacemonkey Mon 06-Jul-15 22:54:54

Fair point tiggy

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