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Absence for holidays vs absence for illness...I think our school has a questionable attitude

(22 Posts)
Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 08:56:05

Just found out that our HT has negotiated with the LEA and the powers that be (forgive lack of knowledge of system) for parents to take their children out of school during the first four terms of the year, for holidays, other random stuff etc etc ie 'authorised absence'. This was apparently against the wishes of the LEA and so on, but she ;fought'; for their right to do this.

Fair enough you might say, but this is coming from a HT who called me in last july for a meeting ebcause ds had had about that much time off for genuine illness.

We were given utter hell over it and threatened with a 'we'll keep an eye on you next year' as a parting shot angry

Am I being unreasobale about this or does it just seem like she has been under pressure from those who wish to have term time holidays, for whatever reason, while giving those whose kids are genuinely absent for unavoidable reasons a really hard time?

I am really cross about it.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 08:56:48

Sorry it is up to 10 days absence...that to me equates about an 85% attendance rate - correct me if not!

RustyBear Sat 03-Oct-09 09:28:04

No, the requirement is for children to attend for 190 days (staff for 195)so 10 days is around 5% (though it would presumably be about 7.5% of the first 2 terms, but would even out over the year.)

I have no idea why she would be giving you a hard time over genuine illness, unless the Education Welfare Officer suspected it wasn't genuine- they do tend to be suspicious of absences with a pattern, eg always on a Monday (don't know if this applies to you) - though what they are supposed to do is to work with the parents to establish whether there is any cause - eg spending time with grandparents on a Sunday leads to illness because of an undiagnosed allergy to their cat.

Our head is completely the other way round very tough on term-time holidays but very sympathetic to long-term illness.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 09:32:59

Hmm...yours sounds OK Rusty.

It wasn't a suspicious pattern at all - though she told me it was initially, then had to abck down on that as I really pulled her up on it.

She had a go at me because I 'attacked' her policy on something else and she wanted to assert her authority. She is a right cow, honestly.

I rang EW in a tizz and they said they'd had nothing from the school, she was just idly threatening us...I'm just peed off that there is such a double standard, and it makes it even clearer that she has it personally in for me rather than actually caring about absence iyswim.

trickerg Sat 03-Oct-09 12:42:35

Alarm bells usually start ringing at less than 94% attendance (or there abouts). Low attendance is an indicator of children being unhappy at school, and something that Ofsted will be keeping an eye on. Heads have to keep a handle on this as it may mean there is a an inherent problem in the school/ one of the classes/ with the child / the child's health and wellbeing, etc.

If your child was having a lot of time off last year, then it absolutely true that the head would be keeping an eye on it this year.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 12:51:03

Tricker I'm taking that as #it can be an indicator' rather than it is an indicator...ds loves school, sadly, as I wanted to HE him!

He was away because he caught a lot of things and was ill.

I think a lot of people send their children in when they are contagious, which doesn't help.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 12:53:27

...though it does bring into question what they would do if your child was ill for say, 10 days (fairly average I imagine in early years) and then you took a 10 day holiday as well.

Complicated really as to whether they would allow the holiday after much absence - but what if you took a holiday THEN your child got a few illnesses and was off for another 10 days...bit of a risk on their part I would think.

trickerg Sat 03-Oct-09 13:00:56

I think you're looking at this too negatively. The head is actually acting to safe-guard your child just in case there is a problem. 'Keeping an eye on..' isn't in any way laying blame on you - it's just that they're a bit concerned that your child is missing more school than normal.

In reality, you should be pleased that the school is concerned about your child's welfare.

Wandaaa Sat 03-Oct-09 13:04:38

You have my symathies. When DD started reception last year she was off the full second week with illness, I then requested 4 days off for holiday the following term. Although HT did give her the time off the letter stated because she had less than 90% attendence this was being watched. I was really mad, she had had no time off the previous year in school nursery and felt that if the illness had been in July no one would have cared.

Wandaaa Sat 03-Oct-09 13:06:06


mazzystartled Sat 03-Oct-09 13:06:13

Fright, that's exactly what happened to nutty (she had a thread on this a few weeks ago) and she was getting no end of grief.

Your head's double standards seem astonishing. And I am afraid that I simply would not take being spoken to like that ("we'll keep an eye on you next year"), it's rude and threatening.

Phoenix4725 Sat 03-Oct-09 13:23:45

just to pont something out if your child is in reception and are not 5 .H/t can do nothng about absenses till the term after they are 5 as education is not compulsary till then

trickerg Sat 03-Oct-09 13:29:14

The head teacher is only doing what she has to do. She will get an Ofsted grading for the attendance rate. This will have an effect on the outcome of the Ofsted inspection. It is no wonder she is concerned about rates of absence.

As I said before, Ofsted see a low attendance rate as an indicator that something is going wrong in the school - fact. It's not the head's fault that she has to chase absenteeism, but part of her job.

cory Sat 03-Oct-09 14:32:16

I can see why you are surprised at the head's inconsistent attitude

our head was very unpleasant about dd's quite genuine ill health (despite paediatrician's reports etc) but at least he didn't allow any other time off school either and was equally unpleasant to anyone else who had time off too (e.g. for holiday with terminally ill parent)

so at least he was fair according to his lights (I'm going to make life difficult for anyone who messes up my statistics whether voluntarily and involuntarily)

he dropped fairly heavy hints that suggested to me that his aim was to get us to take dd out of his school as she was never going to do his stats any favours

so at least there was some sort of method

in your case, the unfairness of it seems a bit odd

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 16:21:23

Thankyou very much for the support.

Tricker, you're not quite getting the point I feel - she actively 'fought' the LEA so that some parents (those who can afford holidays at all I presume, in this climate!) could take their children out for 10 days.

That's like saying to me, 'If you took him out for a holiday, that would be fine, but if he's actually ill for that amount of time, we are going to follow you around the playground making snide comments, warn you by letter as well as verbally and suspect you of nefarious motives'.

Totally bonkers imo. I thought the whole message was 'His education is important' not 'His education is more important than limiting contagion or aiding a full recovery, but less important than 2 weeks in Ibiza at cheap rates'.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 16:22:33

Saying that she is OBSESSED about fecking Ofsted angry

trickerg Sat 03-Oct-09 17:37:41

Is it an 'outstanding' school?

TotalChaos Sat 03-Oct-09 17:43:17

I'ld be somewhat displeased too. I've had hassle more from EWO than from school over high absence last year (DS genuinely ill), but at least school are consistent and won't countenance any termtime holidays.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 17:45:08

Yes, apparently Tricker....I have little faith in the Ofsted grading structure tbvh.

trickerg Sat 03-Oct-09 18:03:39

That would explain it then. All this is Ofsted driven so that she can get o/s in the pupils' attendance section. wink Does that mean that ALL 10 day hols taken in the first 4 terms are authorised, whatever the circumstance? hmm

As regards the illness bit, it can be the sign of a sick school if absences are high, and it is a measure of well-being and happiness of the children. We do start to worry if there is a pattern of days off, or if someone is missing a substantial number of days' schooling. It is very difficult to pick up where they left off, both academically and socially.

Frrrightattendant Sat 03-Oct-09 18:14:57

Don't holiday absences cause that problem also though?

And don't Ofsted mind holiday absences?

I just can't understand the logic, forgive me! smile

trickerg Sun 04-Oct-09 00:30:18

Found this;
A pupil who takes 10 days holiday (whether authorised or not) in an academic year will only attain 94.7% attendance. A pupil who takes 10 days holiday during the period of September – May (the annual DCSF absence survey time period) will only attain 93.8%. This latter is the figure that appears in the performance and attainment tables.

Schools will generally allow 10 days authorised absence with the agreement of governors in exceptional circumstances. I don't understand the bit about the LEA.

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