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Term-Time Absence/Ad Hoc School Closure?

(33 Posts)
Jamiller63 Sun 23-Sep-18 09:59:07

I have joined to ask this question - it's more about the contradictory school policies as opposed to the individual incidents. The overall question is:

"How can schools deem it to be OK to close a school as a matter of routine (i.e. not extraordinary) and then refuse to grant absence which is clearly "extraordinary"".

I have an 11-year old daughter, for the first time I have asked for permission to take my daughter out of school for 2 days. In short it's for a wedding which was fixed for a Monday by Irish relatives thinking that Irish and English term dates are the same - they are not, hence the issue. Applied on 1 July (before she actually entered the school, have just had the response "not extraordinary", we disagree - what's clearly "extraordinary" (i.e. uncommon, out of the norm) to us is not to the school. We can understand the school's perspective (well sort of!), however...

...we then get notice that the school is closing for a half-day this month so the teachers can prepare for next year's intake open evening. Meaning every child in the school misses a half day's education. Seems odd to us we only asked for 2 days, the school's is impacting on a total of about 1,000 educational days.

OP’s posts: |
TeenTimesTwo Sun 23-Sep-18 10:10:25

The half day closure prior to open evening is pretty standard.

As no one is at school, your individual child isn't missing lessons.

You taking your child out for 2 days, means she will miss lessons in around 8 subjects which will then need to be caught up.

Extraordinary circumstances are just that, extraordinary. Not wanting to go to a wedding. The HT's hands are pretty tied, they can't approve for a random wedding.

You can still take your DD, it will just be marked as unapproved. You may get fined, but most authorities don't for just 2 days.

Jamiller63 Sun 23-Sep-18 10:28:44

Thank you - makes sense, although the issue will stick in our throats for a bit - need to put it behind us ASAP!

OP’s posts: |
gallicgirl Sun 23-Sep-18 10:32:43

I've never known a school to close prior to open evening. It's ridiculous.

Is your child in reception class? She's not obliged to be in education until the term after she's 5 so I wouldn't worry too much. Also, if her attendance is otherwise excellent, she won't hit the threshold to be fined.

It's two different issues in the school's eyes. Just go and have fun.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 10:37:05

Why is it ridiculous? When would teachers be able to set up for open evening otherwise?

TittyGolightly Sun 23-Sep-18 10:38:55

Is your child in reception class?

From the OP:

I have an 11-year old daughter

Wolfiefan Sun 23-Sep-18 10:43:42

They may be using INSET time. They may set work for students to do at home. Depending on timetable it may be one lesson. You’re talking about a student missing 10 hours of work everyone else does.
You’ve basically asked for holiday. Ok to attend a wedding but it’s not a medical issue etc. Schools generally don’t/can’t authorise this. They are expected to get all students into school every day unless they’re ill.

gallicgirl Sun 23-Sep-18 10:43:55

Cheers Titty, missed that.

They set up after school. I don't see why it needs a whole afternoon unless they're desperate to present the school in a false light. Why should 1000 kids miss out on schooling in order to sell the school to prospective students? I can see why the OP is annoyed.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 10:49:04

So, gallic, if school finishes at 3:30 and open evening starts at 6 (so you have to be in position before then as parents rock up early) you expect teachers to teach a full day’s lessons, then set up for open evening (which takes more than an hour even if you’re not “presenting the school in a false light”), have a briefing, grab a sandwich, then do open evening (which is bloody intense) for a couple of hours?

No, it’s not ridiculous to give teachers time to set up properly and have a break before it kicks off.

Wolfiefan Sun 23-Sep-18 10:50:51

Schools need to attract new students each year. Their funding depends on impressing students and parents. Having an hour to set up so teachers aren’t exhausted and the school a bit of a mess? No big deal.

Jamiller63 Sun 23-Sep-18 10:51:35


That's my point and why I understand the perspective

"They are expected to get all students into school every day unless they’re ill."

It's not an INSET day (those are already in the calendar) it's an addition. Closing the school for half a day is not getting students into school, it's the opposite. Feels like double-standards.

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 10:53:51

It’s not double standards, because when a single child misses school they miss lessons that have been taught. When the school is closed, no lessons are taught and the teachers can adjust their Scheme of
Learning to ensure everyone still covers everything.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 23-Sep-18 10:54:00

My kids' schools always shut early and open late the next day. My ds's sixth form college shuts for 3 days for their two open evenings!

School rules can seem a bit one rule for them, one for us. You'll learn to negotiate them I'm sure.

greathat Sun 23-Sep-18 10:57:20

I wish we shut early for opening evening. Trying to get all the various practicals set up and ready for hundreds of kids to do take hours. We don't have time to eat, it doesn't finish til 9, then you have to wait for everyone to leave and then pack away all those practicals. Completely exhausting.

Wolfiefan Sun 23-Sep-18 11:12:13

It’s likely one hour. They will likely have to set and mark work for that time.
The alternative is exhausted, hungry staff who are desperate for a wee. A school that needs hoovering and bins emptied and without useful displays and info out for prospective parents.
It’s for the good of the school.

Pieceofpurplesky Sun 23-Sep-18 11:15:22

When you say half a day what do you mean? Most schools where I am send the pupils
Home at lunchtime and they therefore miss one hour of lessons. Open evenings here tend to run from 4-7.

Jamiller63 Sun 23-Sep-18 11:19:57

"half a day" = closes at lunch-time - 3 lessons impacted (about 2 and half hours).

OP’s posts: |
noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 11:26:56

Blimey what kind of hell school has 2 and a half hours of lessons after lunch?

Foxyloxy1plus1 Sun 23-Sep-18 11:27:34

When you went to the open evening for the school, presumably you liked what you saw. Would you have felt the same if the school hadn’t been cleaned, the hall set up with chairs for the head’s speech, the science labs had no practicals set up, the food tech had no food, drama had no examples of acting, no games being played, no maths games.....and so on. It takes ages to set up and clear away. The school has to be ready for the following day, books must be marked, lessons planned, resources sourced. And there are always parents who come at 4 o’clock or 5 o’clock because they can’t come later and parents who arrive at 7.45 because they can’t come earlier.

It’s not a double standard at all. Yours is the double standard for insisting that your child is missing a lesson, whilst removing the child for what is essentially a holiday.

Pieceofpurplesky Sun 23-Sep-18 11:28:18

Wow I don't know may schools that have a 2.5 hour afternoon! That would kill me.

YABU though OP it's hardly going to ruin your child's education - but it would be ruined if there were not enough future pupils and the budget was drastically cut

TeenTimesTwo Sun 23-Sep-18 11:29:29

Our school has 3 half days a year: Open Evening, Christmas and end of Summer term. They close at 1:15 which is the start of lunch. The pupils miss precisely 1 lesson each time.

Open evening is a massive deal. Classrooms are rearranged, displays & activities put out, science experiments arranged. Signposting. parking. Staff are then on duty from about 5pm-9pm. Enough parents and children visiting to fill the hall for talks twice over.

OP. When the staff do their lesson planning for the term/year, they know which of their classes will be hit by open evening, so they plan accordingly. Other times lessons are hit due to random public holidays, or sports day. But it is OK because it is planned in and the whole class is absent. When your child individually isn't there they miss out on whatever was covered, eg demo lesson for food tech, explaining trigonometry, discussing why anti semitism grew in 1930s Germany. These things will not be covered again in the same way. That is why you taking your child out, if very different from the school planning in advance to be closed.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 11:31:57

Half my Y11s are out on Monday on a trip. Because I know they’re on a trip I can plan a lesson that doesn’t involve teaching new content as they’d miss it.

However if only 1 of my Y11s was out because they were on holiday, I would be teaching the new content and they’d miss out.

TeenTimesTwo Sun 23-Sep-18 11:32:58

Actually, that is another good point. The school wants many pupils to be present, feeling refreshed and positive. By closing early, they can go home, relax, do homework, whatever. Then come back to school for another 3 hours ready to feel bright and cheerful to the families visiting.
The children wouldn't get enough turn round time either if there was only an hour or two's break.

WindDoesNotBreakTheBendyTree Sun 23-Sep-18 11:34:14

Schools are required to provide 190 days (380 sessions) of education. Teachers are paid to work a further 5 for INSET.
The half day closure will be included in that. They will have planned for it and they will probably do the same next year.

It's an entirely separate thing to missing school for events or holidays. You are wrong to get irritable about it. But fwiw take your daughter and don't fret about the unauthorised thing for a one off for something important to your family.

noblegiraffe Sun 23-Sep-18 11:37:42

Schools are required to provide 190 days

It’s worth noting that this does not apply to academies.

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