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Taking your child out of school for a holiday...not to save money but do have Christmas abroad...

40 replies

TattyDevine · 07/05/2013 21:42

I am Australian. I haven't been "home" for Christmas since 2005. My children have never been to Australia for Christmas.

I would like to take them this year. I'd like them to miss that last week of nativity play and paper chain making and fly out for an educational, family orientated holiday instead. It will cost me a flaming fortune, and prices are inflated not discounted at that time of year. So its not for me, its with family in mind.

I have a feeling the head teacher will say no. Not because he has bad attendance - at this point he hasn't had a single day off. I dont' actually mind if she doesn't authorise it. I will happily take him unauthorised. However. I upset her at a PTA meeting by seeking clarification on a financial matter, which was necessary for the minutes. I did it in the most sensitive way possible, but I think she wants to "punish" me. She has form for this, by the way.

Apparently the "rules" have changed about absence, unauthorised absence etc. Bearing in mind I can't guarantee her "authorising" it, I'd like to know my legal position regarding "doing it anyway" if I'm going to do this, and bearing in mind this has apparently recently changed, I'd be really grateful to hear from anyone who knows about the new laws/guidelines whatever they are!

Sorry if this isn't quite an AiBU. Perhaps AIBU. But seeing your grandparents at Christmas for the first time ever is not surely that unreasonable, unless missing a nativity play and pouring glitter on a robin is key stuff. He is 5 by the way

Thanks in advance...

OP posts:

dc1961 · 07/05/2013 21:45

You could always appeal the decision to the Governors if she does say no.


HedgeHogGroup · 07/05/2013 21:46

Most Headteachers are realistic about such things. If your child's attendance is above 95% the majority of us give authorisation - ask to see your school's policy (or check their website)
If you choose to go without authorisation you will be liable for a fine (I think its £80 per child here).
In all honesty, I think its worth taking the hit and going with or without permission (who do we think we are anyway telling you what you can/can't do with your own child????)


HollyBerryBush · 07/05/2013 21:48

I took mine out Feb half term plus one week to go home (Y1 and 2). I would not have done it any older than that.

I did have my "argument" ready - had I been refused, I wasn't - in that 6 week term time absences were authorised for Pakistani pupils to go home on extended holidays.

Hate to say it, it worked for me, play the 'ethnic' card.


TattyDevine · 07/05/2013 21:49

I tend to agree Hedgehog! Though I agree its not necessarily ideal just to save money or whatever!

I found


It seems to have been updated.

If it just means a fine of £60 then I'll suck it up I think. Nice to know I can appeal with governors.

OP posts:

gordyslovesheep · 07/05/2013 21:50

Primary school I don't see the issue - except SAT's week - we go away every May and miss a week - all 3 girls have other wise excellent attendance and are doing well academically


gallifrey · 07/05/2013 21:50

We went to Australia last year that was unauthorised. My dd was off school for a total of 10 days as we went over half term. Her attendance is so good she is still on green which means she is above 96% over the year or something, I can't remember the exact number!


Rosa · 07/05/2013 21:51

Age 5 ... Christmas with grandparents I would honestly do it. ( I am in another country and we don't have such strict school laws) however what I do miss is Christmas with my family and I can appreciate how important this will be for you all...


somewhereaclockisticking · 07/05/2013 21:51

at such a young age you probably won't be refused. It only becmes a problem with the middle/high schools really who will usually refuse but won't take any further steps if you then take them out unauthorised provided your child has good attendance then rest of the time. I read the fines here in the UK are £100 per child per parent but I don't think many parents are actually fined.


jacks365 · 07/05/2013 21:51

The rules have been tightened and heads now have to justify giving permission rather than justifying refusing. You can be fined for taking out without permission.

At my daughters school its breech of parental contract too and she could be excluded permanently.


FannyBazaar · 07/05/2013 21:52

My DS's school is very strict about taking time off during term time and we are constantly reminded of this in the news letters. Last year I asked the Deputy Head about possible time off during term time for my DS to attend a cousin's wedding. She pulled an awful face and said people should be more considerate and arrange their weddings at weekends, I said it was but as it was in Australia, we'd need time to get there and couldn't really do it without some time off. Her face changed when I said Australia and she smiled and said 'of course, if it's a one off experience like this, then he must' LOL. Not what I was expecting.

An acquaintance took her child (different school) to NZ for Christmas, she went to the teacher and said that her child was going for Christmas, would they prefer it if he took time off at the end of term in December or the beginning of term in January? Of course they chose December. She stated she was going but offered them a choice, fair deal!

Go for it.


Hassled · 07/05/2013 21:52

Different Local Authorities have different attendance thresholds before they start wheeling in Education Welfare Officers and thinking about fines, etc, but I'd say if your DS has an attendance of more than around 90% then you're probably fine. As in - they'll be annoyed but won't do anything.

It won't be authorised and not because your HT holds a grudge - there are changes to the rules coming into force from September and HTs cannot authorise any absence unless there are exceptional circumstances.


NeoMaxiZoomDweebie · 07/05/2013 21:58

We did it OP...our HT gave us 2 weeks off over Christmas and said it was a grreat thing to do...the DC kept picture diaries.


narmada · 07/05/2013 22:15

Absolutely I would go in your situation, with the awareness that a fine could appear - it's per child per parent, so if money's tight, make sure you've done your sums.

Here is the statutory position with details on changes from September 2013

Some schools will threaten to take the school place away in the case of unauthorised absence. As far as I am aware, this is unlawful, so I wouldn't worry too much if they threatened that.


ThePinkOcelot · 07/05/2013 22:19

YADNBU. Go for it. We went to visit my sister in Australia for Christmas 2011. It was fantastic. We visited loads of places and my girls saw things/did things they would never do here. Christmas morning on the beach was fab! Enjoy!!!


PrincessScrumpy · 07/05/2013 22:22

We wanted to take DC to Canada (2 Weeks over Easter plus a week of school time) to visit my close family. Summer holiday was out as my brother has to travel throughout north America with work so wouldn't be home. School is very strict and I was dreading asking... It was fine... Possibly crying as I spoke to the head about how much I missed him got some sympathy! Good luck


froggers1 · 07/05/2013 22:23

Crikey - I am scared now. My DH is kiwi and DS is starting reception in Sept. We are thinking of doing a Xmas/ January in NZ. Probably not next year. I will pull the ethnic/ Grandmother ill card....I mean who wants to go in July/ Aug (i.e. middle of winter?)


Notcontent · 07/05/2013 22:29

The whole system is a bit silly. We always take an extra week off to go to Australia and it's fine because dd's school does authorise absences for that kind of thing. But another nearby school takes a very hard-line approach and never authorises absences.

You should just go anyway.


expatinscotland · 07/05/2013 22:29

We did this last year and it was well worth it! Had a brilliant time in the US.


Jan49 · 08/05/2013 00:32

Sorry if I'm being dim here, but why does a child need to miss a week's school to go to Australia for Christmas? Can't you go during the 16 days or so that they are off school over Christmas and New Year which would give you around 12-14 non-travelling days there?


Pantone363 · 08/05/2013 00:54

Our head is utterly notorious for refusing any absence at all. I can only think of one occasion when she did and it was because one of the parents had been very ill and they wanted a family holiday.

We took DC out for a week last year and got a very angry letter threatening all kinds if we did it again.


Pantone363 · 08/05/2013 00:56

And the reason we took them was because ex and I had just got divorced and DD was taking it very badly. We took them to show them that we would still have "family" time together and it did the world of good for DD.

The head didnt care at all.


NynaevesSister · 08/05/2013 04:12

Jan49 because you also lose from 3 to five days in jet lag and because air fares at the time if the year are twice what they are normally you want to really make the most of it.


Morloth · 08/05/2013 04:24

I don't even understand the question.

When we went home (UK to Australia) for Christmas, I let the school know he would be away and then just went.

What can they actually do to you if you just do what you need to? Is there a fine? A jail term? What? Stern letter [snort].

It really is very strange, I have never encountered it in any of the schools DS1 has been too, either here in Oz or at his UK school.


sashh · 08/05/2013 06:24

All schools have to give some authorised absence days, for religious holidays, I think it is 2 days, might be 3.

You will have the two weeks Xmas holiday and as you say the last week not much work is done.

So a 3 week holiday with a max 2-3 days unauthorised, you might get a letter, you won't get a fine.

Actually you could request the religious days in 2012 and 2013, they don't know if your family celebrate 25th Dec of early Jan, or that you don't celebrate an indigenous festival, so last 3 days of December and first 3 days after Xmas holiday and very difficult for the head to argue Xmas is not a religious festival.

Go and have a fab time


NewAtThisMalarky · 08/05/2013 06:34

People get fined for that? Seriously? On what basis - surely it costs the school nothing.

That's bloody ridiculous.

The more I read about schools south the happier I am to stay put!

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