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Taking children out of school....

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
This is all getting a bit personal for no good reason. And I am starting to see posts that assign views to me that I don't hold and statements that I never made, including suggesting that I do not think I should pay tax because my children have private education and healthcare - which I never said and is patently ridiculous.
I do think, however, that I should get the same as everyone else which would mean an allowance equivalent to the cost of a place in a state school that I can spend as I choose. In addition I believe it is a net benefit to society as a whole to encourage as much investment and choice as possible in education - and an effective way of doing so is by allowing any spend on education to be from pre-tax income and also allowing parents to spend the state budget per child as they see fit (within reason of course, schools should always have to fulfil some basic quality standards etc).

I do not want to engage in any more slagging matches, not least as I find myself getting drawn into the unpleasantness. And I really dislike the lack of respect shown to some posters and the general lack of respect for different opinions.

That is all I have to say.
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@queen bodecia, I imagine if that's what he meant, that's what he would have said, so I think you're tilting at windmills.

Incidentally, I don't think it would save the government any money. Sure, more people would be tempted to go private. At say £15k pa, and assuming most people who'd be tempted would be taxed at 40%, then that would lose the government £6k. That's about what it spends per child in state schools, I think. I suppose it would allow more choice, for those that could afford it.
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@zikomo, I appreciate your apology for misinterpreting the tone of my post, but if you do really dislike lack of respect shown to posters and to different opinions, perhaps you should think about rephrasing some of your posts so that people on here don't misinterpret your tone:

zikomo wrote:
I suspect it is very much jealousy that drives this remark... Your statement is complete tosh.


zikomo wrote:

Spurious argument in the extreme.


zikomo wrote:
stop being so sanctimonious, just because you lack the imagination or means


zikomo wrote:
economists, sociologists and statisticians far cleverer than you
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^+1

I ducked out of the debate for a while because I disliked Zikomo's unpleasant tone.
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@zikomo,
Quote:

I understand that you don't agree with me

FYI I went to a Public School as a boarder, my parents worked hard and paid the fees for both myself and my brother without complaint, so we may well be on the same page with our views. So if you have the cash and want to pay great, get on with it. If you are daunted by the cost don't start whining that it's not fair that you have paid for someone else's children's education. I think you might find it's called society. Oh and you forget to mention the tax breaks that private schools enjoy by being registered charities.
When it came to choosing schools for our children, my grammar school educated wife, said "bright kids will do well where-ever they go to school" and they did at our local top-five rated State Grammar School, Firsts up at Oxford.
With the cash we saved in school fees we bought an apartment in a ski resort in Switzerland,@zikomo, I almost feel that I should offer you a free week's holiday in lieu of all the tax you've paid Very Happy
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& if you make it education tax deductible what else ends up being tax deductible on the same basis (as its taking burden off the public sector) - private healthcare, buying aspirin OTC, private swimming pool, private member's club with a library, home internet connection?
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
& if you make it education tax deductible what else ends up being tax deductible on the same basis (as its taking burden off the public sector) - private healthcare, buying aspirin OTC, private swimming pool, private member's club with a library, home internet connection?
I think this is a misconception. I don't think anyone at all was suggesting making it tax deductible. Zikomo was just grumbling that the money he spends (on saving the taxpayer money) has also been taxed to the hilt. He wants a transferable voucher at the end of it, not a tax deduction at the start.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
& if you make it education tax deductible what else ends up being tax deductible on the same basis (as its taking burden off the public sector) - private healthcare, buying aspirin OTC, private swimming pool, private member's club with a library, home internet connection?
I think this is a misconception. I don't think anyone at all was suggesting making it tax deductible. Zikomo was just grumbling that the money he spends (on saving the taxpayer money) has also been taxed to the hilt. He wants a transferable voucher at the end of it, not a tax deduction at the start.


Well you could certainly read it that way. Anyway it's all moot - no UK government will ever have the appetite to introduce a policy which might be seen as subsidising private education.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
Zikomo was just grumbling that the money he spends (on saving the taxpayer money) has also been taxed to the hilt. He wants a transferable voucher at the end of it, not a tax deduction at the start.


What's "to the hilt"? (to the maximum extent or degree; completely; fully?). In Sweden, they take more tax off you at the start than they do in the UK.
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@miranda, Just a figure of speech. I think 40% is more than enough for most of us.

Indeed taxes may be higher in Sweden, but then they are a lot lower in Singapore which has even better education.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
There does seem to be a problem that it has taken so long for these ideas to have spread to schools.
Laughing Laughing

The vast majority of teachers & schools naturally want to collaborate to improve the quality of eduction for all their pupils, it's in their DNA. Two things inhibit this: a lack of capacity (mainly pressure of time); and the external pressure (often in the form of legislation) that says competition is the way to improve rolling eyes
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@rob@rar,
Quote:

wo things inhibit this: a lack of capacity (mainly pressure of time);
Fully agreed.


Quote:

and the external pressure (often in the form of legislation) that says competition is the way to improve
I fail to see why competition hinders their ability to improve. It's counter-intuitive.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
I fail to see why competition hinders their ability to improve. It's counter-intuitive.
In the context of how schools operate and how the education system operates it doesn't seem counter-intuitive to me. Surely competition hinders their ability to cooperate? If you are competing for business with a school across town why would you share ideas, plans, teachers, experience, etc? We already have too much of some schools picking and choosing pupils because they don't want to admit the kids who are going to threaten results and consume a disproportionate amount of finite resources.
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rob@rar wrote:
foxtrotzulu wrote:
I fail to see why competition hinders their ability to improve. It's counter-intuitive.
In the context of how schools operate and how the education system operates it doesn't seem counter-intuitive to me. Surely competition hinders their ability to cooperate? If you are competing for business with a school across town why would you share ideas, plans, teachers, experience, etc? We already have too much of some schools picking and choosing pupils because they don't want to admit the kids who are going to threaten results and consume a disproportionate amount of finite resources.


Businesses share best practice very easily through trade organisations even while competing. Best practice is also shared by the workforce moving around. Even if we accept your point that competition is counter-productive then we still have to ask ourselves what on earth has been going on that it has taken so long for this cooperation to even start. Talking to a friend who is one of these trouble shooting super-heads his view was that one if the greatest hindrances to improving schools (apart from the parents!) was the almost impossibility of getting shot of poor teachers. It can be the same in private schools too. Another friend took over as Headmaster of a middle ranking prep school. By his own admission it took him around 15 years to get rid of the dead wood. The last one only went after he appeared in Cosmpolitan bragging about his life of casual sex!
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@foxtrotzulu, schools have always cooperated, including staff transfers, the work of subject associations, collaborative programmes, syllabus and exam development, etc, etc, etc. To suggest otherwise is to reveal a fundamental ignorance of what schools are like.

As for staff, there is no doubt that there are insufficient numbers of good and outstanding staff, at all levels, when you look across the system. I think the majority are doing an acceptable job, oftentimes in challenging circumstances, but with good leadership and sufficient resources (mainly time) could do a much better job. I think that getting rid of the small proportion of the very worst teachers, who will never be able to do an acceptable job, will not make a significant difference to the system as a whole. It would be nice if when employing new staff Heads and Governors could select from a pool to make sure they are appointing outstanding teachers. Sadly the reality in too many schools is that it is not so much selection as desperate recruitment. Fiddling around with the governance structures of schools seems to miss the point, IMO.
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@rob@rar, You seem to be saying that cooperation is one of the key ways that schools will improve and that cooperation has been happening for ages. So why hasn't it worked?
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
@rob@rar, You seem to be saying that cooperation is one of the key ways that schools will improve and that cooperation has been happening for ages.
Not nearly widespread enough, mostly for the constraints that I mentioned earlier, and not enough focus at a local or national level on collaborative programmes. But collaboration between teachers and between schools has a long history. Teacher subject associations, for example, have been around for a long time. The Association for Science Education can be traced by to 1900, enabling and encouraging science teachers to work together and share ideas. Just one example, among many. But if we accept what you have been saying in the last few posts it's a recent phenomenon. That clearly isn't the case. I'd like to see of more of an emphasis on effective collaboration, but there are resource constraints, and with this government a focus on the governance structure of schools which I think inhibits collaboration even further.
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This is getting way off-piste, but all very interesting, so I'll bite!

@rob@rar, it's difficult to argue against concepts such as collaboration (unless you're in an occupied country wink), but your prescription seems rather abstract to me.

How should money be filtered to schools, e.g. direct from central government or via local education authorities?

Roughly how much money would be required to run an optimal state school system?

Should officials be responsible for setting up collaborative structures? Should collaboration be enforced in some way or voluntary? How would its effectiveness be measured (if at all)?

Would elected politicians ever be able to change state education, or would permanent officials do as they pleased?

Or maybe, heads would be given a budget and left completely alone to get on with it (but who would appoint them, and on what criteria)?
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laundryman wrote:
How should money be filtered to schools, e.g. direct from central government or via local education authorities?
I think core funding should follow the pupil. Some adjustment for identified need beyond the average, the current 'Pupil Premium' seems to address that. While we're off-piste, I think some attempt should be made to address the different levels of funding depending on what county or eduction authority a school is based in. Seems to be nothing more than a horrible quirk of history. In addition to the core funding to schools I think there is a role to be played by other types of organisation or institution, such education authorities, training organisations, curriculum support and development bodies, etc, etc. These should be funded independently of schools, and might include public funds, charitable funds, commercial sponsorship, private funding from for-profit institutions, etc. These organisations can play a huge role in working with schools to help address weaknesses, promote good practice, facilitate collaboration. They can help the lack of time and lack of ability to change that too many schools suffer from.

laundryman wrote:
Roughly how much money would be required to run an optimal state school system?
No idea. Maybe a little bit more than is spent now, but a little bit less than when Gordon Brown was throwing money at the education system? If you want an actual number you'll have to ask someone far cleverer than me.

laundryman wrote:
Should officials be responsible for setting up collaborative structures? Should collaboration be enforced in some way or voluntary? How would its effectiveness be measured (if at all)?
Just out of interest, what do you mean by "officials"? In a school I know well one person employed by the education authority played a massive role in turning eh school around in 18 months, from a poor OFSTED inspection to a good inspection result. He was employed by the EA, therefore an official, which some people might say is a faceless, wasteful bureaucrat. In fact he was an experienced headteacher who was on a temporary contract to help a number of schools turn around. To answer your questions as best I can, the system should enable schools and teachers to work together to improve their provision. In particular I think we need a significant effort to improve the quality of leadership across the system, at school level and subject level. I think that the vast majority of schools want to offer the best provision they can to their pupils, and there will be little reluctance to engage with initiatives which help this. At the moment I don't think there is enough spare capacity in the day to day work of a school, so anything which helps them to improve their provision would be welcomed - is it important who sets up such opportunities? In terms of measuring effectiveness, it seems reasonable to assess the impact made by specifically identified programmes (which is something I made efforts to do in programmes I've run or funded). In terms of general improvement in schools it seems to me that there is no shortage of accountability mechanisms in place at the moment. Do we need more?

laundryman wrote:
Would elected politicians ever be able to change state education, or would permanent officials do as they pleased?
Both have a role to play. Education is publicly funded so the representatives of the public, and the officials who do their work, have to play a role. I'd like to see a bit less interference on the day to day work, but elected politicians will always have a major role to play

laundryman wrote:
Or maybe, heads would be given a budget and left completely alone to get on with it (but who would appoint them, and on what criteria)?
Heads have a huge amount of autonomy including being given a budget based on the number of pupils on role, especially those who have captured their (possibly ineffective) governing body. But they work within an accountability framework, so it is not a complete free-for-all. I don't see that should change. I'd like to see greater capacity in the system to support Heads, especially those new to the role and those who are struggling to lead their school to make improvements. Unfortunately there are simply not enough people who want to apply for headships to have a large pool of outstanding leaders, so improving the current pool of school leaders has to be a priority.
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@rob@rar, thanks for the detailed answers. I'm glad we don't have to go beyond Brownian levels of spending! On what is an official, I nearly asked in brackets whether or not they should have teaching experience, but felt I might be asking too many questions already.

The role of politicians is an interesting one. I'm with you - it's inevitable (and, frankly, right) that elected politicians supervise and, where necessary, reform an important and expensive public service. The trouble is that governments cannot please all the people all the time (nor even all those providing a service), so I think teachers, doctors, etc, need to understand that it is inevitable that, at least half the time of their careers, they'll disapprove of political interference.
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laundryman wrote:
... so I think teachers, doctors, etc, need to understand that it is inevitable that, at least half the time of their careers, they'll disapprove of political interference.
Equally I think that politicians, the public and those who like to comment on public services (in the way that this thread has strayed in to) need to understand that there's no 'silver bullet' solution to the complex challenges facing a huge public service like education. Vouchers, competition, sacking bad teachers, etc, all form a distracting noise IMO.
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BUMP

New rules working well then http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43500165

Quote:
More pupils in England were taken out of school to go on holiday in the last academic year, government figures show.


I would assume this is as as result of the much publicised court-case leading to people deciding to take the risk. Now that case has ended, with the parents losing in High Court, will be interesting to see if the figures dip
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the fining of parents is nothing other than a stealth tax. The wording in LEA "laws" was/is to punish against "persistant truency". I am very anti this especially as the rules do not apply to private schools. The one way round it is to say that you are home tutoring for a week.
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@Morrissey,
Quote:


the fining of parents is nothing other than a stealth tax.

Whatever else it is, it's clearly not a stealth tax. The money raised through fines won't ever come close to the cost of enforcement. The Jon Platt case cost £144,000 for a kick off and I'd be absolutely sure that the admin cost of issuing and chasing penalties far outweighs the revenue.


Quote:

I am very anti this especially as the rules do not apply to private schools.
I wouldn't have a problem applying this to private schools as well as day but it is a little hard to compare state with private in this instance. Ignoring the fact that the level of comparable absence in private schools is, IMO, incredibly low, you would then have to compare school hours etc.
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Quote:

The one way round it is to say that you are home tutoring for a week.

When I looked into "home schooling", aeons ago, you had to opt out properly and then be inspected to see whether you were providing adequate "education otherwise" than sending a child to school. And you can't have your cake and eat it. If you opt out you don't have a place in your favourite local school to opt back into.

I've taken part in these debates before and whilst I took kids out of school in the past (and still would) I cannot condone teaching kids that it's OK to tell lies about it. Going back to school with a goggle tan when they were supposed to have had an upset stomach. Or dad teaching them algebra. Or whatever.

I'm prepared to believe that some parents may know better than schools what is best for their kids. But any parent who teaches the kids that it's OK to lie about that sort of stuff definitely isn't one of them. Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad Evil or Very Mad
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Quote:

I cannot condone teaching kids that it's OK to tell lies about it.


Agree - as ours are now in exam years we no longer take them out for a week, haven't done since Primary School, but have had the odd day. We've just told the school we're travelling that day.
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+1 We just say that our child won't be on school on Friday (not that we did that this year). Our kids have great attendance and are model citizens at school. The teachers are wise enough not to bother asking for an explanation.
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The handling of this is so terribly inconsistent as well

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43254495
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Quote:

that some parents may know better than schools what is best for their kids.


Boys got 11 GCSEs at A or A* each so I'm going to agree that our view of them missing some time in Primary hasn't seriously damaged them Laughing
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I agree with Pam, don't lie and don't get your children to lie. I simply used to write a letter and inform the school. If it was unauthorised, so be it, if you take a decision as a parent, then you need to have the courage of your convictions. When they were in junior school ours were rarely there for the last day of the Easter term, as we wanted to get going. Now they are in Year 7 it is different and we will collect them on Thursday at the end of the school day and sit in traffic with everyone else. While they are in junior school you have much more flexibility, so I say use it, they won't miss much.
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Although it can be frustrating if one waits till the end of school for the drive to skiing and then finds out that the last lesson was spent watching a film and not doing maths anyway.
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Quote:

lthough it can be frustrating if one waits till the end of school for the drive to skiing and then finds out that the last lesson was spent watching a film and not doing maths anyway.

Agreed - but the alternative is to have the courage of your convictions and make the decision yourself. My son and daughter - both teachers - entirely agree that the last day of term is generally a total waste of time - but they don't have the option to sneak off, unfortunately!
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@pam w, both my daughters school are finishing early next Thursday - one (secondary) at 12:30 the other (Juniors) at 13:15 so that they can mark them in for afternoon registration- the cynic in me this is exactly to allow the teachers to sneak off early. It is causing me some difficulties with respect to child care due to it TBH.
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Wow, I was expecting this thread to be about whether you should take your kids out of school during term time, not the rights and wrongs of private education. So FWIW we've taken our kids out of school four times in the last four years and been fined four times. It's a PITA as their attendance record is better than other kids, even taking this into account, but it means it's not as busy when we're away and not as expensive. So worth it but I still feel I've been robbed...
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Wow, I was expecting this thread to be about whether you should take your kids out of school during term time, not the rights and wrongs of private education. So FWIW we've taken our kids out of school four times in the last four years and been fined four times. It's a PITA as their attendance record is better than other kids, even taking this into account, but it means it's not as busy when we're away and not as expensive. So worth it but I still feel I've been robbed...
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@iainm, that is interesting.... have you received any of the threatening letters about social services etc?
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Our 3 "accidentally" missed the Monday after half term as we "got delayed in Geneva". We didn't ask our kids to lie, we simply lied to our kids (terrible example I know).

The way we looked at it was we saved (after Geneva Hotel Costs) close to £1,000 compared to flying home in time. I'd do it again too. They had a ball and if that makes the whole thing that little bit easier afford then I don't think there is much harm done. In class sizes of 30, their teachers are stoked to have one less.
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Well given the latest madness is you are not allowed to take you child out of school for a few hours to do a music or ballet exam under the same rules the whole system has fallen into utter disrepute in my opinion.
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jabuzzard wrote:
Well given the latest madness is you are not allowed to take you child out of school for a few hours to do a music or ballet exam under the same rules the whole system has fallen into utter disrepute in my opinion.


That’s not entirely accurate. The schools had simply failed to clarify the rules. Once anyone asked the government made it entirely clear that time off for music/dance exams was entirely acceptable.
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And time off for ski exams?
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