This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
£60 fine for illness- unauthorised - advice please(134 Posts)
Hi all, desperately seeking advice please!
On 18/3/19 I kept my son off school for the week as he had a terrible sore throat and cough.
I called in the school everyday and gave them updates on him.
However, today I received a letter from the education authority stating I am being fined £60 for that week as the absences are unauthorised.
The letter didn’t even go to the correct address as the school somehow has my address wrong on the system and the guy from down the road has brought it up to myself.
Also, I have had one for my sons dad (we are not together) sent to the wrong address also.
I know that if he gets fined too will cause issues as he’s going to go mad at me for keeping him off school for what looks unauthorised but I only did it because he was ill.
Totally confused on what to do now!
How old is your son and how much time has he had off this school year?
If it is illness it is not unauthorised and can't be fined. I would question the school and check if they put the wrong mark in the register for that day, which has led to the letter being automatically issued without anyone really checking
My son is 6... he had a week off in October as he had a tummy bug but other than that he’s had no time off.
My doctor couldn’t get him in until the Thursday but at that time he was better than he was but still not well enough to go to school.
No they have definitely put it as unauthorised absence.
I’m really worried as me and my sons dad aren’t together and if he gets the fine too it’s going to cause problems as he will blame me for keeping him off school even though he wasn’t well.
Also... I’m a teacher myself so I know the process with being absent from school and have never known this happen.
I am on the board of governors at my sons school too... which makes it worse as I know they have an attendance issue but seem to be targeting those who are easily targeted.
I’ve seen parents constantly bringing their children to school late and nothing has been done!
Thing is you need proof of illness, even if it's a doctor's appointment. You can't just keep them off for a week.
A lot of schools run a take them in and they give the say so if they can go home thing after they get their mark.
It's ridiculous, a waste of time and infects more people than it should but schools hands are tied.
Well I’ve provided a drs appt slip and a pic of calpol the doc prescribed over the phone with his name and date on but they’re still saying that isn’t enough evidence.
It sounds like they've made an error and put at least one of the missed days down as unauthorised instead of sick. Ring them to check. If this is what has happened.
You find yourself in a slightly difficult position given you are a governor at the school.
I am however surprised that the school seem to be taking this attitude over what appears a bout of illness. I would go back to the school and re-iterate in writing that you phoned in everyday, that you can prove (and provide the evidence) that you had arranged a doctor's appointment and therefore you cannot understand why they are taking this action. Say that you expect them and the Local Authority to rescind the fine as it is totally inappropriate.
Unfortunately if they take the same attitude as they have so far you only have two alternative and that is pay up or to go to court and plead your case with them. I think that unless you can categorically prove that son was ill, which is difficult then you will probably loose and then the fine will be more. It also puts you in an impossible position with being a governor and if I was Chair of the Board I would be asking you to resign as it is impossible to reconcile remaining a governor in the circumstances.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
There is never a need for a doctor's note to cover a child's absence while they recover from a self-limiting illness. You shouldn't need to prove that you made a doctor's appointment either.
A parent is more than capable of working out whether or not their child is too unwell to be at school.
What does the letter say about appeals? It sounds as if this will be sorted out quite easily. It would be ridiculous to require you to prove that your son was unwell.
Well that's bloody ridiculous. I would be making a formal complaint personally. It's completely unacceptable to bully and threaten people when there is adequate proof of illness. You can't have any more proof than this. My son was off for over a week with tonsillitis - we had one doctor's appointment and that was it.
I think that unless you can categorically prove that son was ill, which is difficult then you will probably loose and then the fine will be more.
Surely that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and must be false. If someone is issuing a fine it is for them to prove that the absence was unauthorised not for the parent to prove it wasn't. It's impossible to prove that someone was too sick for school.
If someone is issuing a fine it is for them to prove that the absence was unauthorised not for the parent to prove it wasn't
It was clearly unauthorised. The question is whether or not it was due to sickness. Like it or not, it is up to the parents to prove that their child was sick when dealing with a fixed penalty.
It's impossible to prove that someone was too sick for school
It isn't. But it is generally impossible for the school to prove that the child was not sick.
I think the school has made a mistake:
(From a disabled/sick children's charity website)
Also, if you phoned in every day did they offer to provide work for your child to do? They are supposed to do so.
CAN I BE FINED OR PROSECUTED IF MY CHILD IS OFF SICK?
No. You cannot be penalised for a genuine medical absence. Schools must authorise an absence where a child is ill or has a medical appointment.
Government guidance recommends that schools should authorise medical absences unless they have reasons to doubt that they are genuine, and that schools should not ask for unnecessary medical evidence. You shouldn't be asked for a doctor's note for every single absence, but it will be helpful to share information with the school about your child's condition and the likely effect on attendance.
How schools deal with attendance issues varies in practice. Some schools send out automated letters when attendance drops below a certain level. This can be alarming and distressing, but there's nothing to worry about if the absence is authorised. Always ask for a copy of the attendance record and check the status of individual absences.
There is one part of the last post, which OP you need to follow up on and that is to get hold of the attendance record of your child. Is it possible that this is saying that your attendance record is much worse that you say it is? If the attendance record is as you say, then it makes the decision to go to a fine even more questionable.
Any chance they think you went on holiday? A whole week is a long time to take off for a sore throat and a cough.
You got prescribed calpol
2 full weeks off is a lot. As a teacher you will know that. Who was he at home with? Surely your work weren't happy with 2 weeks off for you. It does sound like a lot of time off for a bug and a cold. Most children would only have a couple of days.
It’s madness that you have to take a child to the doctor as proof they are ill.
You don’t have to take a child to the doctor to prove they are ill but I would consult a doctor if my child was so ill they needed a whole week off. (Eldest in Y11 and has never had a full week off unwell.)
Your ex shouldn’t get a fine... when we took DSS out of school for a holiday we got a fine to our address but his mum didn’t receive one. We had offered to pay if she did as it was still cheaper but nothing ever surfaced with her
A week off with a sore throat is reasonable - tonsillitis can last over a week. Ditto a week with a tummy bug bearing in mind you're supposed to wait 48h after last diarrhoea or vomiting before returning.
To have both illnesses in one academic year is not unusual.
And it is inappropriate for GPs to be seeing kids with self limiting illnesses for admin purposes for schools.
Many parents can confidently manage that sort of illness without medical input.