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Unauthorised Absence From School

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anaxcrosswords | 21:10 Tue 16th Jul 2013 | Jobs & Education
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Has anyone here, who has children at school, received a letter about the Government’s new strategy regarding unauthorised school absences? Ostensibly it’s saying that parents can be fined for taking their children out of school during term-time, but the reality is truly ridiculous.
Let me start by saying that if parents decide “We want a holiday and we don’t care about the dates we use” then clearly this is wrong. Our kids need to be properly educated and we can’t just take them out of school when we feel like it.
But did you know that, during term-time, there is now no such thing as ‘authorised’ absence? By that I mean the letter isn’t saying you can’t take kids out of school during term-time without authorisation – it actually means there is no authorisation full stop. So if you are trying to book flights but you find that the only ones available are a day or two before end of term (or the return is a day or two after resumption) then tough. You can’t have that holiday.
Thankfully, in practice this isn’t the case. I spent a good hour today talking to a director of my daughter’s school. He regards the entire thing as nonsensical.
For one thing, while the Government has introduced this rule, it hasn’t introduced anything at all by way of policing or enforcement.
In my particular case I need my daughter to miss the last 3 days before the Christmas break for an overseas holiday which is a special celebratory event, and many family members have committed themselves to flights and accommodation – there are very specific reasons for us needing those 3 days but I don’t need to explain them here. The school director said to me on the phone – go ahead, book the flights. For him, there is no problem whatsoever. My daughter has an exemplary attendance record and is one of the school’s highest academic achievers. To miss this holiday would, in his opinion, be totally wrong. He could say that to me over the telephone. But he can’t put it in writing. Because it’s against this new policy.
The odd – but predictable – thing he mentioned was that what I could have done, to make everything very simple, would be to wait until the day before we are due to fly out and telephone the school to say my daughter was very ill and would not be able to return until after the Christmas holiday. That would just be accepted without question. So what will happen, with this new measure, is that parents will get around it by phoning the school and lying. The honest ones will be punished with a “No, your child can’t have time off”.
Nice to know that our blessed leaders are so in touch with practical reality, isn't it?

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but what if a nukmber of other families also want those days off? The school will then have to explain either to the families that they've already sanctioned, all be in informally, another child to have days off, or those kids will be off 'sick' and the school loses it's attendance. How can the head be so naiive as to think he can do this for you but not for others?
I'm not aware that this is a new rule - we couldn't take holidays in termtime, as long ago as when I was at school.
Its not possible to Police this. We are going to Zante tonight, three days before end of school. End of Term exams have been completed, I've not asked permission and the last few days of summer term are of little educational benefit to my son. To book the same holiday next week would have cost us £600 more, so even if we were found out and fined the £50 it said in the letter, it would still be worth it. No teacher will tell me my child can't have a few days off -its school not prison.
but it's still a legal requirement for your child to attend
That's exactly what families were saying on TV last night - it's cheaper to pay the fine than lose the less expensive holiday.
DJ, I can't see what difference it makes if other families also want those specific days off.

As it is just before Christmas, every one knows not much work is done then, anyway. anax, I'm glad your school director could see sense, even if he couldn't apply it officially.
If schools, and the education system in general, were that concerned about children receiving 100% of their education then there should also be a blanket ban on teachers attending courses in school time, teachers having one-off meetings and being unable to attend lessons (meaning busy work for cover teacher to supervise), etc, etc - this is also unworkable. There needs to be compromise.
If you accept a place at a school you should accept its (or the local authority's) rules, I feel. There is a legal requirement to attend. If parents could pick and choose when their children are off in term time it would cause real problems for teachers and pupils as work would need to be caught up on. As a teacher I have to put in extra time to go over stuff that students missed when absent. Having said that, I think the last couple of days before the end of summer term can be missed without causing problems- but if that was official policy there would be 'creep' a few days would become a week, then two..
Sorry but I agree with the Government, you child is supposed to be in school not off fannying about on holiday - in school learning!!
When I was teaching I found a number of teachers to be resentful that they were unable to take advantage of cheaper holidays.
the only reason holidays are dearer during the school holidays is because the schools are on holiday.
My grand-daughter starts school in September and is due to be a bridesmaid abroad June next year.
My daughter asked the school about this and I think it has a lot to do with the attendance of the child but the head couldn't say she would get permission and without it you could be fined. .. She will be 5 when she needs to have time off.
Can we all buqqer off when we feel like it. Very few of us...........
It's not just the attendance of the individual child, it's is the general attendance level across the whole school (schools have targets to reach).
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One of my main concerns is that this measure will encourage a culture of dishonesty - getting around the rules by falsely claiming illness. That just sends the wrong message.
And I do understand what you mean DJ, but absence in term-time has always existed, and to be honest it doesn't seem to have created any great problem.
DTC please control your imagination. others might want to join you!
oh dear anax, how would you feel if the teacher went on holiday for a few days and said "there's no-one to teach your child, but don't worry, they weren't doing much anyway"?
also, i am a bit confused by your post when you say " if you say “We want a holiday and we don’t care about the dates we use” then clearly this is wrong. Our kids need to be properly educated and we can’t just take them out of school when we feel like it.
yet then you say you want a holiday, don't care about the dates you are using and say it's right!!
Why not spend more time and money getting habitual truants back into school rather than penalising those families whose children are regular attenders?
the first fine is £60, the next one could be up to £2500, a community order or 3 months jail, so only try this on once.
Pupils have to attend 195 days a year. that's equivalent to 39 weeks. That leaves 13 weeks for holidays.
I agree about the dishonesty issue though- it does concern me that parents have to involve children in the deceit. This definitely goes on

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