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Is it discriminatory to issue penalty notices for term time absence to both parents?

(81 Posts)
minisale Fri 05-Jul-13 13:28:21

Our LEA has a policy of issuing a fine to each parent for each child if you take them out of school for 5 consecutive days. So a two parent family will receive four penalty notices of £50 each while a single parent family will receive just two for the same act. The impact of taking the two children out of school is exactly the same. Is this discriminating against two parent families and therefore is it illegal for the County Council to implement this policy? Ideas, knowledge, experiences and views gratefully received.

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 12-Jul-17 10:07:19

Aaaaaargh ZOMBIE THREAD!!!

Allthebestnamesareused Wed 12-Jul-17 10:06:23

If the child has separated parents then it is only one of those parents chosing to remove them from the school - they get fined.
If the parents are together then they both make that choice - they are both fined.
It's not rocket science!

prh47bridge Tue 11-Jul-17 21:24:29

Headteachers used to be able to grant compassionate leave but this is no longer the case

It very much is still the case. Some head teachers like to pretend they don't have any discretion as it means families who are denied permission for absence take their anger out on someone else. They are lying. They have discretion to decide what counts as exceptional circumstances that allow absence to be authorised.

eyebrowsonfleek Tue 11-Jul-17 11:52:01

I would pay and move on.

Headteachers used to be able to grant compassionate leave but this is no longer the case.

NWgirls Tue 11-Jul-17 11:14:03

And I would also just pay and move on.

NWgirls Tue 11-Jul-17 11:08:18

Michaeldu, as you have named the school (and some very specific circumstances) you really should not name your child on MN. I have reported your post so that it hopefully can be edited; at the very least his name should be replaced by "DS". (You may also want to remove the school name)

Wh0Kn0wsWhereTheTimeGoes Tue 11-Jul-17 08:52:39

I would just pay the fine too, you have been through enough heartache without a possible court battle. Pay it and move on.

TeenAndTween Tue 11-Jul-17 08:34:08

michaeldu My suggestions
- pay the fine, in the scheme of everything else it is tiny
- start your own thread as this one is very old smile

michaeldu Tue 11-Jul-17 08:29:09

Hello there. I need some advise. So back on 2nd March, we as a family had to dashed back to Vietnam as my mother-in-law had a heart attack and was taking into A&E. So I spoke to the school Langdon in East Ham and told them that I had to take my 5 years old son out of school that evening. Unfortunately my mother-in-law did not pull through and she passed away. My wife was distraught. There was a point when she said that she wanted to end her end and join her mother. I was very scared of this and hence I stayed back in Vietnam with her. To look after her and our 2 kids. So in total I took James out of school for 24 days. Now the school have fined me for this. £60. I wrote a moving letter to the headteacher of the school but he is stubborn and still want to fine me. That is just not right. My hands was tied. I could not leave my wife back in Vietnam, with the state of her mind and take James back earlier, so that he can attend school. There was no way I could have done that. So if I do not pay the fine £60 and I go to court. Do I have a chance of winning? or shall I just pay the fine and get it over with. Any advice will help right now.

prh47bridge Mon 29-Jul-13 17:08:13

Whether or not you would get away with that depends on how long you take off and how often it happens. If your child is sick for a week at about the same time every year, for example, the school may want proof that your child is genuinely unwell. And of course you need to be sure that your child isn't going to spill the beans accidentally by telling their friends about the wonderful holiday they have just had.

SpringSunshine Mon 29-Jul-13 14:37:27

So why don't parents just call in say their children are sick instead of asking permission and letting everyone know they are going on holiday?

Took a term time holiday myself once the week before the end of term as it was the only possible date to fit around dh's work (and authorised), but if things get difficult would just say they are sick. DS has been off for more than week before when his asthma / hay fever are bad ...

tiggytape Wed 24-Jul-13 18:02:20

My own DD is under an OT and also a specialist paediatric physio at the hospital. She needs similar equipment to your friend's child so I do have some understanding of the issues your friend faces. Apart from official hospital appointments though, she doesn't have extra time off, we have loads of things we have to do with her daily and also at weekends. It is difficult I know, and provision isn't great in every region but I do understand why the school say no to playground visits in school time.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 17:55:46

'Where very specialist equipment is needed, your friend should ask her GP to refer to a paediatric physiotherapist at the local hospital.'

I take it you have never tried to get such a referral.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 17:55:01

Well what happened was that she won (after tribunal) OT weekly IN school, though still OT monthly. The TA had to deliver it IN school for 3 half hours a week, in the school hall.

The TA wasn't anywhere near competent enough to ensure the child complied, so it was a waste of time.

On top of that she then had to go to busy playgrounds which her child found distressing, during busy times, so he stopped complying there too.

tiggytape Wed 24-Jul-13 17:41:58

Time off for medical appointments is allowed. Most clinics and consultants operate at set times and on weekdays so a child needs to miss that time off school. It is unavoidable - it simply isn't possible to get a consultant to see you at 6pm or on a Sunday.

However completing the exercises a professional gives you (as most parents with children under an O.T are required to do) can be done outside school hours because no professional need attend.
Where very specialist equipment is needed, your friend should ask her GP to refer to a paediatric physiotherapist at the local hospital. The school understandably would find it hard to justify sanctioning time off for periods when the swings in the park are likely to be less in demand especially as it is only needed once a week so could be slotted into weekends instead.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 16:22:48

I have an example of why this does not work.

A friend of mine with a child with ASD had an private OT appointment weekly. Because she didn't drive it took a whole morning. The HT agreed to this time off (probably pleased to see the child's back for a bit).

Because of the time it took and the progress her child had made, and diminishing of funds, she used the OT in a consultative capacity and went to appointments monthly. She requested an hour and a half a week during school time to carry out the some of the OT exercises in the local playground (programme required suspended equipment i.e. swing) because the playground would be relatively empty instead of full of school kids.

Her request was refused by the HT. There was no right of appeal.

tiggytape Wed 24-Jul-13 14:22:02

The HTs were in a very awkward position under the old wording which mentioned upto 10 days for holidays with exceptional circumstances because everyone (including some Head Teachers) came to view this as the right to 2 weeks off school for a holiday as long as other attendance wasn't too shocking.

This was never the intention. 10 days was supposed to be the absolute maximum not the default expected. And it was expected that HTs would strictly ensure it wasn't granted except with very strong reasons - which put them in a pretty impossible position. In the end, there were schools that granted holiday to anyone who asked which was never supposed to happen.

So now the reference to a holiday has been removed to emphasise the exceptional circumstances element that was always the key thing. And only the HT can decide about that. You can't have a system where some parents (who claim the moral high ground of offering educational trips at times they deem less disruptive) are treated differently to parents who don't have any educational motives and just want the cheapest and hottest 2 weeks in Spain. So no, one system doesn’t ideally suit everyone but a system based on parents deciding which rules apply to their children and when wouldn't work.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Jul-13 13:57:08

The absence rules. There has been a tweak this year to remove a reference to 10 days holiday as some parents were treating this as a right which was not the intention (nor was it what the rules actually said). In other respects they haven't changed.

Many of those parents who I've come across claiming things have changed believe they previously had the right to take their child out of school for 10 days holiday. They didn't.

It is also true that some schools and LAs are tightening up and authorising fewer holidays but this is a process that has been going on for years. Some schools have used the tweak to the rules as cover for a decision that they will no longer authorise any holiday - a position that I suspect will only hold until a parent takes them to judicial review.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 12:57:16

You don't have the option of home educating though do you, unless you are very wealthy, same with going private.

Unfortunately, the way our society is set up, school is as much about childcare as it is about education.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 12:55:24

What's been like it for years?

The 'outreach' model of pretend partnership or the absence rules?

If the absence rules, then how comes people are saying they were able to take time off last year but not this?

If the outreach model, then yes I agree. But think this is outdated and detrimental to our children's education and development.

prh47bridge Wed 24-Jul-13 12:50:53

But why should the HT decide?

To keep it simple and enforceable.

If it is up to the parents it becomes much harder to hold them to account if attendance is inadequate. All absences become unauthorised as there is no mechanism to authorise them and the courts start having to distinguish between different types of absence. And the process for holding parents to account becomes longer. The school can't simply issue a fixed penalty notice (or take any of the other steps available in the current legislation) for taking too many unauthorised absences so the first port of call would be the courts.

Putting it at the head teacher's discretion gives a simple system. You ask the head and make your case. They decide. If they say no and you take the holiday anyway you may get fined. If you disagree with the head you have the option of home educating, going private (if you can afford it) or going to a school where the head agrees with you (if you can find one). Or you can simply accept that, as with many other things, the school makes the rules and you have to comply.

This change means significantly reducing the partnership element of education and the role of the parent in this.

What change? Nothing has changed. It has been like this for years.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 12:40:15

DD's school are asking for direct debits every month shock. It would appear most parents pay it.

DH has suggested paying in a lump sum at the end of the year/school career deducting any fines.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 12:37:38

This change means significantly reducing the partnership element of education and the role of the parent in this.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 24-Jul-13 10:54:00

But why should the HT decide? They are not the ones charged by law with responsibility for the upbringing of the child, their needs holistically, their context in their culture, family, educationally. Their decisions can never delivered in the whole context of a child's lifetime, of their opportunities or not, or their self-esteem, relationship, attachment needs.

Some parents are feckless and neglectful. There are bodies who deal with that. Or should HTs also make rules about bedtimes, and issue fines on these too?

cloudskitchen Wed 24-Jul-13 10:49:01

ah ok. misunderstanding on my part. it seemed reading the thread that people are being fined for occasional absence. as I said, I don't take my kids out of school for holidays however I do not judge those that do as sometimes situations or circumstances arise when it seems the best or only thing to do.

I am bowing out of the conversation at this point as law or no, it's not something we will not totally agree on.

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