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How would your school respond to a request for time off to go to Wimbledon?

(41 Posts)
Runmoreorless Mon 17-Jun-19 21:44:19

I'm on SLT, all absence requests are discussed at our weekly meeting. We recognise that staff work hard and have many restrictions placed on them and try to be flexible where we can. Unfortunately, as you'd expect due to human nature, the more we give the more requests we get.

Often it I will be children's graduations (always agreed), or other child/school related things (usually agreed, unless staff member has made a lot of requests).

Increasingly we' re getting requests for long weekends away for a big birthday, either the staff member of their friend or family member or for midweek weddings or hen dos with a Friday/Monday flight. Trickier but usually agreed unless they've already had time off.

Then there's the big events, like Wimbledon which happen once a year, and in term time. As a teacher and a fan you'd never get to go to without an agreed day off. A big deal for some people.

I absolutely agree that looking after staff is important but I'm struggling to see where it ends. For example, I participate in a sport where a lot of big events would mean a Friday flight, so I can never go with my friends. That's just a fact of life, or is it?

The other thing I struggle with is that staff with the means/inclination to organise these big trips or events get extra leave, but really why is that more valid than someone who'd like an extra day to spend with DC or do DIY?

The policy just says this kind of leave is discretionary, which is unhelpful!

Are our staff trying it on because we're so accommodating or is this usual?

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Justalittlebitfurther Mon 17-Jun-19 21:48:24

We get two well-being days a year, which we can use for big events weekends away. It has had a big impact on staff morale and seems to stop staff making other requests 😊

PinguDance Mon 17-Jun-19 21:54:38

Lol. A colleague was denied time off to go to her brothers wedding. My line manager told me to call in sick on a day when I wanted to go to a family event.
I think there has to be a balance between my school (see above) and what your describing, you do see very accommodating - is it unpaid leave? Surely people aren’t asking for a paid day off for a Friday flight?

Runmoreorless Mon 17-Jun-19 21:55:35

I actually suggested that today Justalittlebit (although I only went for one day). I think overall that would be a lot more days' absence, as most staff don't have any, it would make for a fairer distribution though.

What happens when someone's already used their days and then they "need" another? . We seem to get a lot of partners/children who book surprise trips (anyone would think they don't know their family member works in school!) and then there are the hen dos and weddings where the staff member genuinely doesn't have any control over the date.

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PinguDance Mon 17-Jun-19 21:56:39

Actually the two well-being days sounds like a good compromise, i mean three would be great as there would be one per term but I’d take anything really.

mynameisMrG Mon 17-Jun-19 21:56:43

You sound very lenient. At my school it’s unavoidable medical appointments (usually hospital) and close family bereavement. I think it’s always known that working in a school means you get great holidays but not during term time. My school is very good at giving time in lieu for staff that can earn that ie teaching assistants working after school etc

Teachermaths Mon 17-Jun-19 21:56:57

No way would this ever be allowed.

PinguDance Mon 17-Jun-19 21:58:55

Surprise trips? Errrr.....

Coronapop Mon 17-Jun-19 21:59:40

Every time leave of absence is agreed for a non-exceptional reason it sets a precedent. Some of the examples you have given would not merit term time absence in many educational institutions - and rightly so. Teachers are paid to teach in term time.

LolaSmiles Mon 17-Jun-19 22:03:00

Like others we have leave for close personal situations and school are usually very understanding and flexible on those situations.

My school doesn't approve personal trips unless it's extenuating circumstances (e.g. a member of staff represents a sport / organisation/ music ensemble at a high level and there is a national level or international event).

For small things like sports days, school concerts/plays etc often a request is granted if the staff member has found a way to swap some PPA&cover by mutual agreement with a colleague in the team. Nobody takes the piss and this means there's good will.

I'm of the view that we have enough days holiday that going to Wimbledon is no different to a family wanting a term time holiday and that's a no for me. If it's thay big a deal to them then they can go on supply and ensure they are free during Wimbledon. I don't see why school should financially support (via cover) someone's jolly.

MrsElijahMikaelson1 Mon 17-Jun-19 22:04:18

In our school I think most, of not all of your examples would be refused. It simply costs too much to cover those days and as we are struggling to not make anyone redundant every penny counts. We have been upfront with staff about this though so they know why we can’t authorise anything.

stoplickingthetelly Mon 17-Jun-19 22:06:13

Your staff are taking the mick. My school would let you have unavoidable medical appointments e.g hospital. More difficult if it’s for your child. No one would bother asking for things like sports day etc. Funerals for my own close family members. But not necessarily dhs. Often we have to arrange our own cover asking staff to use their ppa to cover. I’m agreement that you’ll repay the favour at some point. Other times it would be unpaid.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Jun-19 22:06:46

Are our staff trying it on because we're so accommodating

Yes. Staff at my school wouldn’t even bother asking.

Usuallytootiredbuthappyanyway Mon 17-Jun-19 22:07:06

I don't think my school would consider granting a day off for Wimbledon. I know requests have been turned down for funerals of non family members.

AnneElliott Mon 17-Jun-19 22:08:06

I don't work in a school, but I wouldn't approve a trip to Wimbledon during our busy period when leave is restricted.

I agree that kids sports days/nativity should be agreed if possible as others teachers would always miss out. But Wimbledon - no.

Runmoreorless Mon 17-Jun-19 22:08:34

How is your sickness absence MrsE?

I'm obsessively contentious, no sickness for years and never ask for time off but if I thought I'd have to miss my DC's graduation I wouldn't ask and just go sick. Plus I'd be mightily demotivated and likely to take other odd days too. I can only imagine what it might do to the attendance of less well motivated people.

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HettyStThomas Mon 17-Jun-19 22:08:33

In my school it would be approved providing we sort out cover ourselves and it does not cost the school anything eg a supply teacher. We have had a member of staff attend Wimbledon for example. I have had a long weekend away with my family (only the Friday). All unpaid. As a result you get a commitment, honest and grateful workforce.

Runmoreorless Mon 17-Jun-19 22:14:11

Yes, that's where we're coming from Hetty.

It the justifying the "worthiness" of a request that I struggle with. It's a day off, and valuable and appreciated by any staff member no matter what they use it for. For some that might be representing the county at sport for another it might be attending a distant relative's funeral or an old friend's wedding. Who's to say one is more important than the other? They're all a "free" day off.

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AppleKatie Mon 17-Jun-19 22:16:25

Wimbledon would be a firm no everywhere I have ever worked. If you’re a fan you have two choices -
1. Watch it covertly in the staffroom/your departmental office it is often on in those places.
2. Organise a trip and take a minibus full of kids to Wimbledon.

‘Surprise’ trips and hen do’s would also be a no.

Kids navities/sports days yes 1-2 1/2 day a year max, I wouldn’t dare ask for more. Cover generally arranged reciprocally in department.

Weddings if ‘close’ friend/family and exceptional ie no more than 1 every 3-5 years would probably get a yes.

Runmoreorless Mon 17-Jun-19 22:19:22

BTW we have 150 staff, we're not getting this volume of requests from a one form entry primary grin

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Waterlemon Mon 17-Jun-19 22:32:59

My last school gave every member of staff a toil day - time off in lieu, covered in house usually by HLTAs or SLT

But - staff couldn’t then claim overtime for all the odd extra hour/half hour they worked (pretty much only applied to support staff) like staying to put up a display,
head said she would only repay us once!

It was also pro rata so pt staff only got half day.

We did have a staff member that attended Wimbledon every year. Others used their toil day to attend things at their own children’s schools,

MsAwesomeDragon Mon 17-Jun-19 22:40:15

I wouldn't dream of asking for time off for something like Wimbledon or a wedding, etc.

I have only ever asked once for time to see a Nativity, other school performances I've sent my parents in my place. The one I did go to, I arranged my own cover, and owed the friend who did it a huge favour as she came in on her morning off to cover for me.

I have had to ask for time off for funerals. My grandma, dh's step mum and then dh's step dad. Those were approved without any question as they are close enough relatives. A colleague was refused time of to go to the funeral of her great aunt though, as that was apparently too distant a relation (even though this great aunt had lived with the family for years and was closer than many people's grandparents). As a department we arranged cover between us and took the plan to the head so she could go, which he did finally agree to.

I think it's a fine line that needs to be walked. Allow too much and you'll get staff taking the piss (which may be where you are now), be too harsh about allowing things and you'll breed resentment among staff (like my colleague not being allowed to go to her great aunts funeral). Some allowances, but for important things. I wouldn't count a hen/staff do, ever, sport would depend on the level, so playing for England yes, local Saturday League getting to a final, no.

saraclara Mon 17-Jun-19 22:42:40

Close family funerals and hospital appointments only, at our place. Even medical appointments were only granted grudgingly with as 'you must try to get the appointment out of school time/have you tried to change it?' response.

In the 20 years I worked there, I only chanced it for one day (and half of that day I'd have been on PPA time) and rang in sick when I wasn't. And that was to support a friend at a traumatic time. I had to get the train to her, and I was terrified that I'd be spotted by a parent or something, and someone would mention seeing me.

The idea of asking for Wimbledon...!

PurpleCrowbar Mon 17-Jun-19 23:41:47

I teach in a school (not in the U.K.) that cheerfully allows '5 days a year no questions asked' leave.

It's expected that if you avail yourself of this, your department are civilised about it & do internal cover. You also have to get approval - no one cares WHY you want the time, but you're expected to show how you've minimised the impact (eg your year 11 & 13 classes are on study leave already & you're able to set work for your remaining classes).

So - I had a couple of days off to attend stuff related to my dd in the junior school. I also took a 'drowning in marking' day. My colleague is currently off this week because of unusual circumstances around one of her adult children.

It's a better system.

But in the U.K., nope, Wimbledon leave wouldn't be a thing!

cassgate Tue 18-Jun-19 08:01:04

My school has just changed its policy and no leave (full day/days) other than moving house, graduation or family funeral will be granted. This was because the head was getting more and more requests. She will still allow the odd hour here and there to attend medical appts and to attend your own child’s school performances/sports morning/afternoon. Sadly, it was the same few people who were starting to take the piss so she had to change the policy.

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