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Opinion please! School absence due to parent working abroad

(217 Posts)
TheGreenEye Tue 26-Feb-19 23:30:13

I've suffered clinical depression for years, including a couple of suicide attempts. I'm recovering, been back at work about a year without any serious episodes.

Work have assigned me to go to work abroad (as in different continent!) for a fortnight in term time. I'm wary of the effect that might have on my mental health, but there's no-one else can do the work. This is one of the reasons I've decided to take my family with me. Being together as a family is hugely important to us all, we do everything together.

We have never taken an unauthorised term-time holiday before, and likely never will again.

The work trip is last minute (10 days notice) due to financial restraints being lifted after a risk assessment of the alternatives. It will be the trip of a lifetime for my kids. Primary school are supportive "oh yes, you must go!"

The secondary school seem less so and I'm worried we will face a hefty fine on our return.

Guidance on what constitutes "exceptional circumstances" seems difficult to come by.

We've sent a letter from my employers confirming this is work, not pleasure. Is there any other evidence I should be presenting to the school?

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cestlavielife Tue 26-Feb-19 23:32:39

Ask your employer to pay the fine?

But who will be with dc while you are working.?
Why can't dc stay behind with other parent?

FrancisCrawford Tue 26-Feb-19 23:32:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mikesh909 Tue 26-Feb-19 23:33:59

It doesnt sound exceptional, people work abroad all the time.

However, I agree you should take advantage of the opportunity for your family. Be prepared for the fine though.

TheGreenEye Tue 26-Feb-19 23:36:06

The other parent is my wife and she will be coming with me too.

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FamilyOfAliens Tue 26-Feb-19 23:37:18

The secondary school seem less so

What do you mean by this? Schools either authorise a requested absence or they don’t. So what is their actual decision?

TheGreenEye Tue 26-Feb-19 23:40:13

I spoke to the HT face to face and she said the answer will be "no" because it would "set a precedent."

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FamilyOfAliens Tue 26-Feb-19 23:44:17

That a really odd reply from a head teacher. We would say no because it wouldn’t be covered by “exceptional circumstances”. “Setting a precedent” is irrelevant when it comes to school rules.

Still, at least you got a definitive answer.

TheGreenEye Tue 26-Feb-19 23:46:27

people work abroad all the time

True, but that is the sort of lazy, casuistic reasoning that leaves us with rules like this one. I'm 100% certain my kids will benefit more from this experience. They've never been abroad, they've never flown in a plane. The key word for me should be "circumstances." This isn't me taking them to Disneyland.

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NewIdeasToday Tue 26-Feb-19 23:56:33

It’s not appropriate to take a second at age kid out of school for two weeks. The reason they have these ridiculous fines is because some parents don’t seem to understand the importance of attendance otherwise.

You need to find a way of managing your personal issues without impacting on the education and future of your own child.

Mikesh909 Tue 26-Feb-19 23:59:57

If you read my response properly you'd see I'm all in favour of taking children out of school in favour of other experiences.

However, that doesn't change the fact that there is nothing exceptional about your working abroad for 2 weeks. This happens all the time, to many parents. The headteacher evidently agrees with me, so prepare yourself to pay the fine.

Like I said the first time though, I hope you take advantage of this opportunity for your family.

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:07:05


Unfortunately, I have 10 days before I travel to the other side of the world. I know for sure that missing two weeks of school at this particular time will not impact on the education and future of my child, certainly not as much as experiencing another culture, climate will enhance it.

Put your tar and brush away please.

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GreenTulips Wed 27-Feb-19 00:11:12

My husband works abroad a lot

I have never gone with him or the children

We don’t feel the need to do everything together

The school are right to say no and you’ll need to pay the fine. Same as everyone else.

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:12:31


Absolutely true - and the flights are booked, don't worry. Seems to me that there is no common sense applied.

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TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:16:16


I don't work abroad regularly. This will be my second trip out of Europe and my third out of the UK. It will be my kids first journey out of the UK. There's no way on earth anyone will convince me that we should be fined for taking this opportunity?

If you were the HT, what would you do?

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TidaQuel Wed 27-Feb-19 00:20:19

Just go and have an amazing adventure. If the school refer you to the lea for a fine it’ll be £120 per parent, per child. Reduced to £60 if paid within 21 days. Alternatively you could, not pay it and let it go to court and fight your case.

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:22:07

Is it £120 for the whole trip, or £120/day?

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GreenTulips Wed 27-Feb-19 00:23:11

If you were the HT, what would you do?

Follow the rules laid out by the department of education.

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:24:22

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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EdtheBear Wed 27-Feb-19 00:25:18

Sorry but I'm with HT.
Primary is probably fairly easy to catch up, take work with the child.
Secondary less easy maybe 6 or 7 teachers all trying to ensure your child doesn't miss stuff. So extra work for them.

GreenTulips Wed 27-Feb-19 00:25:50

Circumstances are clear.

The rules are clear.

That’s their job to follow the rules. They can’t bend them because you haven’t been aboard before.

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:28:15


More circumstances - we're talking Year 8 - not exam courses. She's top set across the board. School want here to do eBAC, she's chosen options of Food Tech, Art, Geography and Health And Social Care.

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TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:33:57


LEA's and schools define "circumstances" arbitrarily. The law will have been carefully worded to give HTs some discretion. It is clear that to you and your family dynamic, working abroad for a fortnight would not constitute anything exceptional, because that is your "unexceptional circumstance"

Our family dynamic is different to yours. For us, this is a very exceptional circumstance.

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GreenTulips Wed 27-Feb-19 00:39:13

Yes but HT have targets

Part of those targets is attendance

You are a small part of that issue and could reduce their targets below an acceptable level

TheGreenEye Wed 27-Feb-19 00:47:50


Ah...we find the root of the problem! Statistics and targets, the enemies of our ability to take individual circumstances into account

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