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Taking kids out of school - just check the rules first

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
My father was not a doctor but suffered from a severe allergic reaction to having to go on holiday in August. So we regularly went camping in June, sometimes missing school (but not real) exams.
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For anyone who is interested.

We replied back to the boys school stating that we considered it to be exceptional circumstances given it was often difficult for us to get leave together due to the nature of our jobs - which is true! This was over 2-weeks ago and the school has not responded. So as it stands I will call them on the day and say I was taking no response as agreement!

Have heard nothing at all from daughter's school - will write to them again in the new year.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
My understanding is that the rules around attendance were designed to combat the very small number of families who allow their kids to run truant from school and hang around street corners committing crime and general nuisance. It was a way of pressurising the parents to make every effort to get their kids to school or suffer financial penalty...........BUT as with many other areas of life here in the UK now, the majority of decent law abiding and responsible folk get punished and embroiled in a system addressing the minority. It's like big price hikes on alcohol to dissuade binge drinking, it largely just hammers the responsible drinker who now just has to pay more to have same level of enjoyment. I'm sure we can all think of other examples of big stick rather than carrot!

Surely it makes perfect sense and you'd like to think that most head teachers would be open to the view that if a child attends school all year round, works hard (regardless of ability or grades) is respectful, never disrupts class and is basically a good student that a week away doing something constructive such as skiing with family then that should be acceptable. The family has demonstrated they have a responsible attitude by ensuring their child is a good student and can be rewarded if needs be with an authorised abstraction to save thousands of pounds. The chances are that said responsible parent will ensure their child catches up on the subjects missed, I know I did when we went skiing in term time just as I did when my daughter missed a week after her appendix operation.

It's common sense is it not? Puzzled
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Boris, and ask your local education authority for their "code of conduct" on penalty notices - or just look it up on the internet, for that matter. I imagine they are all rather similar and would probably put your mind at rest.
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My daughter who is at college asked if she could take a couple of days at the end of the college year (July) so that we could leave for our hols a bit earlier thus saving many ££££. She was told no as this was a very busy time for her so we booked later at higher cost.
SHE IS NOW FINISHED FOR THE SUMMER, and languishing in bed. She actually finished 2 weeks ago but had to attend a 5 min interview last Thursday. rolling eyes
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Michael B, How very annoying! My elder son is in the same situation, and has now 'broken up' until September. When we asked for permission for a week in January, we were told that the college is no longer giving permission for ANY absences but - as it happened - the week we needed was an 'inter-semester' holiday, the college was closed and therefore there was no problem...
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Exams seem to be getting earlier and earlier - or is it me getting older. The third term (summer term) seems almost non-existent even for GCSE pupils now, let alone A levels. Michael B, that's infuriating. I'd be inclined to go back and ask whoever said "no" what is going to make her so busy in July.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
When I've been at Gregory's school on the last day of term, there has been barely a teacher to be seen in any of the class rooms.
Many classes were being 'looked after' by a film playing on a video player.
I assume there was a lot of paperwork to catch up on in the staff room/down the pub.

I took him out for a week once when someone 'stiffed' me short notice, leaving me with a paid-up empty bed in Wengen.
Gregory rushed around asking teachers for work to do while he was away - more impressively, he actually did what he was given.
Not all teachers came up with tasks in their subject but in those that did, the clarity of having specific tasks to achieve over the course of the week, helped focus him and he returned to school ahead of the class in more than one subject, despite having skied full days every day.

Is it feasible to get him authorised for 'home schooling' for just a couple of weeks each Winter? Wink
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Quote:

Is it feasible to get him authorised for 'home schooling' for just a couple of weeks each Winter?

I was wondering about that. You can certainly opt out of school if you can satisfy the powers-that-be that you are providing "education otherwise" of the required standard. But I suspect you can't just opt in and out at will.
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pam w, AS exams are early but most schools start teaching A2 lessons immediately after. Most of the kids I know will do 5 or 6 weeks of their A2 before they break up for the summer.
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As far as I`m aware if you opt out for home schooling, even for a short time, you loose your place at the school. I`m told most are happy to take you back but if its a popular, over subscribed school the place may have been taken.
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Just for the record, I was joking - I wouldn't expect to be able to opt for home schooling 2 weeks at a time.

It does feel like The Boy's being home schooled half the time though as his school seems to take every opportunity not to run lessons. For example, the others get their admissions done on the run up to the start of term while his, though technically open don't have any lessons for a week or two while they sort out the admin for the year. Similarly, most AS kids we know are back this week while The Boy's study leave doesn't end till next week.
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So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
Wow. Our AS kids have been back 4 weeks. They only got the week of spring bank holiday and the one after off.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
My teacher son-in-law says that as they have got rid of almost all the education welfare officers the prospect of getting prosecuted (following due process which relies, obviously, on the input of said officers) are slim to non existent.

So, typical policy-making, Gove style! Get rid of the people who deal with truancy, then have a crackdown on truancy.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Kids have been complaining that they have done nothing since the exams finished on 2nd June (end of year exams - nor proper ones.) Homework diaries confirm this. Their last week consisted of sports day (from which every single kid in the school opted out rolling eyes ) rounders tournament, three days practice for leavers concert, 1 afternoon for leavers concert (from which we were not allowed to opt out... double rolling eyes)


It seems that the important thing is that the kids show up and the school stats look good. Nothing to do with providing the best possible education.


The scary thing is....this is a 'good' school. We still have transfer tests at age 11. This is one of 3 schools in NI which only accept A's. I dread to how little work some of the less popular schools do Shocked
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Just heard about this in the local news

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/education-23129472

This could be good news by making currently term time dates school holidays (if they reduce the length of the summer hols as talked about presumebly Christmas & Easter hols may be a week longer given more choice for skiing), alternatively it could become a complete nightmare especially as from Sep 2015 when this comes in I will have (along with many parents I am sure) 1 child starting in the infants and one in juniors school. If there term dates are different it will make this even harder.

I am also concerned by how far in advanc they will set the dates. Currently Hampshire publish there term dates two years in advance this allowed me to book next Easters skiing holiday in January making the most of what I suspect was a pricing mistake from Mark Warner to actually get an affordable school holiday week. I had been planning on trying to go feb half term for 2015 by booking affordable flights as soon as the were released and booking up very early accomodation which is affordable. If there is going to be doubts about term dates that actually makes it harder to take advantage of the discounts for booking early.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Well the school have replied

Quote:
I appreciate and understand your comments in your e-mail but, as stated, I cannot lawfully authorise this absence as work commitments unfortunately do not constitute exceptional circumstances.


Which is a load of balls as a)he can lawfully authorise as it is in the power of headteacher and b) there is no definition of exceptional circumstances that I can find!

Back to original plan then
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Boris, must make you pause to think whether you want the education of your kids in the hands of someone who can trot out such an inadequate reply. Pathetic. Sad
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Just checked the legislation wording and it states

Quote:
the proprietor, or a person authorised by the proprietor in accordance with
paragraph (1), considers that leave of absence should be granted due to the
exceptional circumstances relating to that application.”;


Which to my mind means it is still his decision - please correct me if I am wrong!

CBA to argue the toss with the school as there is no point falling out with them completely - but will raise this with various parent groups to see how others have been treated. Being a small town, everyone knows everyone and everything so if there is any disparity it will come to light

To be fair to headteacher, I suspect he is just going for a blanket ban for exactly that reason!

Pedantica, indeed - although to his credit he has improved the school over the last few years. I would imagine he thinks this is as much a pile of pants as the rest of us, but has to go along with it. I'm sure he won't be surprised when the boys are ill come 20th Decemeber! Mind you I doubt anyone will tie this up in 6-months.

Still waiting a reply from daughters junior school - will be interesting if they take same line or go for more common sense approach.
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Boris, I think that all you need to do is accept that the absence will be treated as "unauthorised" and not fret about it. Then the relevant reading is the "code of conduct" on issuing penalty notices - in my son in law's school there have to be two 5 day unauthorised absences before a PN is issued, and that's just the start of the process.

NickyJ, if I had children in schools with different term dates I would want to go on holiday as a family and if that meant some "unauthorised absence", then so be it.

Attention here needs to shift, I think, from all sorts of fiddling and arguing and debating about how to get absences authorised, to looking at what it actually means in practice for them to be unauthorised.

For a parent taking a child with otherwise good attendance for a week's holiday there is essentially no difference between authorised and unauthorised absence. For the school, of course, there is a difference but that's their problem.

If I intended to go anyway, I would say something like "We will be taking Johnny on a family holiday from [dates]. I realise this is in term time, but we have decided on these dates because [his older brother's school is on holiday then, or whatever]. I hope you will be able to treat this as authorised absence from school. In any case I shall be asking his class teacher for any work it would be important for him to complete during this time, and will assure that he does it conscientiously.
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pam w, you are correct

I'm not too bothered about the legalities of this, what really annoys me is the changing of a perfectly good system to one which is going to annoy everyone - including schools!

Suppose I should just relax and not fret as you say
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pam w wrote:
Attention here needs to shift, I think, from all sorts of fiddling and arguing and debating about how to get absences authorised, to looking at what it actually means in practice for them to be unauthorised.

I wonder if the stickler foxtrotzulu is reading this thread. wink

I agree with you.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
I think I heard something on the radio this morning about shorter school summer holidays; which must mean longer winter holidays. Good news for snowHeads with schoolkids.
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laundryman, although in practice bet it means:

1. Shorter summer holidays - meaning they will be even more expensive as more people try to get away in shorter timespan
2. Longer breaks at February and October half terms - which may or may not be beneficial for skiing
3. It's too complicated so will all be left as is!
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Quote:

Suppose I should just relax and not fret as you say


Indeed you should. Fretting about things you can do nothing about is completely pointless and will make you unhappy. Cool
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If I was to bet on the Gove liberation of school term timings then I would heavily back the no real change point. External exam timings will remain fixed, Xmas and Easter are not really negotiable, and there are all sorts of interests involved in ensuring schools are generally aligned from teachers, parents, other school service staff, local shops knowing when they need to be extra vigilent about shoplifting etc etc.

Obviously primary and secondary schools in a particular town will want to align and it will be a brave and progressive head who will want to adopt a 2 semester model with 2 one month breaks or whatever. Even then parents will whinge about holiday costs increasing over a whole month rather than the 1 week Feb window you have now etc.

There is a solution of course re having kids and the draconian school system that prevents parents from getting cheap hols, and that's not to rely on a free state babysitting service and educate them yourselves or privately wink
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
Quote:

or privately

if you think state schools are difficult about holidays in term time........
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
but yes, I agree, if you find the school system too awful, educate your kids yourself.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
pam w wrote:
Quote:

or privately

if you think state schools are difficult about holidays in term time........

You get more holiday though (odd that it may be to pay for kids not to be at school). In practice, reasonable parents can get blind eyes turned (at least, I could wink).
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fatbob wrote:

There is a solution of course re having kids and the draconian school system that prevents parents from getting cheap hols, and that's not to rely on a free state babysitting service and educate them yourselves or privately wink


It's not about wanting CHEAP holidays at all, it's about wanting affordable holidays and quality time as a family. Even if you don't have children you still pay premium price for travel in school holiday times. It is extortionate and so the alternative is to have the right of travel at a time that suits without getting ripped off. School term times unreasonably inflate travel costs and that is unjust. And since when has schooling been free babysitting. I pay my tax and National Insurance so I pay plenty for my kids education as it is. Do you want us all to be home doctors and surgeons too to save getting free health care?
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Sign the petition:

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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jirac18, You knew the deal when you chose to have kids that school holiday times are the times of peak demand and it shouldn't be a surprise that a market economy prices services at a peak when there is peak demand.

I suspect most TOs in the ski industry bump along on a pretty slim margin for 10 weeks of the season and only really make any money in say 6 peak weeks over Xmas/NY, Feb Half terms and Easter so I'm not sure where the rip off is. They could level prices uniformly and be left with big losses for those 10 weeks and no profits to recover them with so in the end you wouldn't have packaged hols at all. I don't know a single parent that would say that they wish they'd never had kids in order to have more affordable holidays so I suggest you count your blessings.

Plus the more parents that take kids out of school the more skiing will be ruined for the rest of us wink
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

I suspect most TOs in the ski industry bump along on a pretty slim margin for 10 weeks of the season and only really make any money in say 6 peak weeks over Xmas/NY, Feb Half terms and Easter so I'm not sure where the rip off is.

I agree, there's no injustice, or extortion, about it - that sort of language is well OTT. The package holiday market is very competitive and if you think the TOs are making too much money out of you, don't use them. It costs no more to drive in school holidays than at any other time and (rather surprisingly I think) lift passes and equipment hire are not more expensive either. Lessons can be, but the mark-up is relatively modest.
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It's well OTT in your opinion! TO's haven't made too much money from me as thus far as I've taken my kids out of school in term time so as to avoid the premium rates. That doesn't mean the principle of their practice is right nor is that of the schools making it harder for families. Like I said its not about a cheap holiday but an affordable one, is that unreasonable? And FATBOB you know nothing of my personal circumstances or any choices made around having kids so please avoid presumption and then a lecture on the matter coz you may well be wide of the mark!
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Quote:

That doesn't mean the principle of their practice is right

What principle is that? Why is it unjust for a commercial company to charge more for a holiday in high demand than for one when they are likely to have to offer discounts to sell all their places?
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Because to some extent I think it preys upon families desperate to enjoy a family holiday who are railroaded into having to take those holidays at specifically restricted times. When there is little or no alternative that is unfair. I'm likening it to If you don't like the cost of something at one retailer you have a lot of choice out there to find it at a better price elsewhere which then makes it affordable. Soon enough a decent family holiday will be affordable only to wealthy people and I think that's wrong although Fatbob clearly is happy to have the slopes all to himself with no kids around.
I know the business side has to be profitable and I see your point too but really as a parent I feel stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to holidays. I barely manage to afford holidays and I work really hard long hours all year round so wish there would be greater concession from Schools and holiday companies. I'm not after favours just fairness. And yes I know life's not fair!!!
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jirac18, Sorry I trolled (fairly obviously) and you bit. I do sympathsise with your situation but as pam says the self-drive/self cater option is one which you pay a minimum of premium. If everyone had enough discipline to DIY or forgo for a a couple of holidays you could pretty soon break the TO model you seem to regard as so unfair- so its collectively in the hands of all families.

And truthfully there are usually kids around whenever I'm skiing but they don't really impact me much. I wouldn't relish dealing with endless ESF & school mobs on lifts in a French resort mid Feb however.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
fatbob, no worries, sorry I bit! This coming season we are self drive and I'm booking an apartment privately at Christmas which strangely seems cheaper than half term and its that or no holiday. It's still a lot of money but cheaper than TO and flying by a big distance so we'll see how we go. I just hate being pushed into a corner and this whole school absence thing is doing just that.
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Quote:

Soon enough a decent family holiday will be affordable only to wealthy people

Puzzled holidays have rarely been so affordable. when I was a child nobody I knew went on expensive holidays - certainly not on ski holidays. The only holidays I had till I was 11 was staying with my aunts in Swansea (where we could get on a bus to some lovely beaches) and from 11 - 18 it was always camping - to Austria in the later years, when my parents were earning more money. I went on a ski holiday with the school at 14, and loved it, but couldn't afford to go again till I was 40. You talk as though annual ski holidays were a basic human right, and being deprived of that was some kind of unspeakable hardship. When my kids were small we loved family ski holidays but couldn't afford them every year.

Ski holidays are most definitely the preserve of the well off - that's always been the case but, thanks to mass air travel and a highly competitive market, they are now available to more people than ever before. The majority of parents still probably couldn't afford it, though. Those of us who can are the lucky ones.

There are some excellent threads on SHs setting out detailed ideas on how to have the cheapest possible ski holiday - drive, rent an apartment in a smaller resort, from an individual (ie not a Tour Operator), do your own cooking and look after your own kids. It will be slightly cheaper and much less crowded out of school holidays and, as I have argued in my earlier contributions to this thread, that option is still available to you.
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jirac18, just seen your later post. Christmas is a lot cheaper than half term - and Easter is even cheaper, dead low season in terms of French holiday rentals. Where are you going?
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