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Taking kids out of school - just check the rules first

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
T Bar,

Yes, I struggle to understand it, but I don't know anybody who has had a knee done that regrets it in the slightest.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
homers double wrote:

Quote:

I'm saying nothing but there are lines to read, and spaces between them...


Like my one from the 14th September? -

Quote:

Schools are not to blame for this and most heads probably do not agree with it and are aware it will likely mean children returning to school from illness with suntans.


Why is all this so difficult to understand?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
skibar wrote:
homers double wrote:

Quote:

I'm saying nothing but there are lines to read, and spaces between them...


Like my one from the 14th September? -

Quote:

Schools are not to blame for this and most heads probably do not agree with it and are aware it will likely mean children returning to school from illness with suntans.


Why is all this so difficult to understand?


The whole rule seems to be one of these ineffectual something must be done manouevers that governments specialize in. They achieve little and cause huge inconvenience to many and create jobs for low intelligence bullies to police them.
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At the risk of going off piste, can I bring up a different aspect.

It's supply and demand that cause the huge hikes in holiday prices during school holidays.

We should start by following France's lead and have different holidays for different regions - this, by itself, would help bring down prices in the holidays.

Further than that we should change the whole structure of school holidays. Our current school holidays are designed round the need to use child labour to help with the harvest. The whole school year should be redesigned, with more breaks and a shorter summer holidays (where a lot gets forgotten).

Having 5-6 terms a year with at least a two week break between each would make more sense.
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Interesting thread this one, and one which I have been following closely as am in the same predicament myself. Ski trip booked for first week of Jan (4th to 11th)which means 4 days out of school for my two aged 8 and 10 (the Monday is another teacher training day). After deliberating how to approach the school and using suggestions and tips from this thread, I concluded being honest with the head to be the right approach. Stating to the Head that it was annual ski trip that the kids got a huge amount from blah blah blah. Her response was that it would have to be unauthorised, but would not have to be reported to the LEA, but if it happens regularly then it would have to be reported which may result in a fine, ie do it once you'll get away with it. My response was "ok fair enough". I then went on to mention that this year it has been really tricky to get time off for the rest of the winter due to my wife and I not being able to take holiday (wife a nurse unable to get time off over Christmas and starting uni mid Jan so unable to take any holiday til the end of the semester) The Head's response to this was interesting, stating that this is "exceptional circumstance" and she could actually authorise this as such. I was told to send in holiday form with this reason and it will be granted.

Whether or not this is the same for all schools I cannot be sure, but from the blurb that is out there on this subject it is clear to me that it is not wholly accurate and the Heads do have some powers to authorise, I guess depending on school policy. Having restricted holiday for parents in my case (and incidentally two other families I know in different schools - one parent a landscape gardener and one a chef catering at the British summer festival scene both unable to take time off in summer holidays) seems to be a valid reason to be given authorisation to take time off in term time.
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My daughter is at private school, I was surprised but pleased when our request for January was approved.

Saves us enough to pay for a couple of month of fees probably!
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jubnut wrote:
Quote:

it is clear to me that it is not wholly accurate and the Heads do have some powers to authorise, I guess depending on school policy. Having restricted holiday for parents in my case (and incidentally two other families I know in different schools - one parent a landscape gardener and one a chef catering at the British summer festival scene both unable to take time off in summer holidays) seems to be a valid reason to be given authorisation to take time off in term time.




It's probably not so much the school policy (but you could ask the school for a copy of it) as government policy.

Some people support the government (or at least Gove's) position that adults have a responsibility to ensure their children attend school whenever possible and that they are not withdrawn to go on holidays. Probably most people involved with schools (i.e. headteachers, governors, etc.) think it an absurd policy.

Heads retain the power to authorise absence in 'exceptional' circumstances. 'Exceptional' is not defined but the DfE make clear that it does not accept that holidays can be 'exceptional'. To say that you and others have valid reasons for holidays during term time is to flatly contradict the point (absurd though it may be) of the DfE policy.

If your HT believes she can get away with authorising your holiday then good for her and good luck to her -ultimately it is her job she may be risking. Schools have to report absences and say why there was an absence. These reports are available to Ofsted and others who check up on whether schools are complying with the expectations of government and others.

PS - don't understand how the school can not report an absence to the LEA - you sure that's exactly what she said?
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I am a little unclear what people think is the perfect scenario. I can't honestly believe that anyone disagrees with the general principle that children should attend school whenever possible. Personally, I don't think the concept is remotely absurd. Should the application be as rigid as it now seems to be? Ideally not, but clearly the previously relaxed approach was being taken advantage of so something had to change.

Regarding the increased price of holidays outside of term-time I never understand how people see this as strange or unreasonable. In any situation where it is impossible to perfectly regulate supply to match demand you have to adjust your prices accordingly. No tour operator could exist on low season rates all year round so they charge full whack when demand outstrips supply and then offer discounts when supply exceed demand.
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foxtrotzulu, a few years ago when setting my prices for my apartment, I was heavily criticised for charging 'over the odds' for peak holiday weeks. I have every sympathy with families, as I was in the position of needing to book peak weeks myself not that long ago. However, I could book my apartment for half-term and French holidays three times over at my top rate, but the January weeks, which are my lowest rate, could remain empty.
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foxtrotzulu, There is no perfect scenario. I agree the kids should attend school whenever possible. I can understand the parents who take them out early at the end of term when there really isn't much going on in school particularly in a non-GCSE or A-level year, I'm pretty sure we've done it with our kids and I don't really have an issue with that. I'm not even sure of staggering half-terms etc would be the answer. I'm cynical enough to think that any levelling of prices would be to the higher end of the scale so everyone loses.
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foxtrotzulu, I'm pretty sure that the people taking advantage of previous regulations won't take a blind bit of notice of new regulations
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Quote:

I was heavily criticised for charging 'over the odds' for peak holiday weeks

By whom?
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Hells Bells, you priced it right. What some seem to fail to realise is that your peak week rates might be getting your a "profit" but empty weeks in low season where there is an over supply of accomodation in France would see you make a "loss". On the whole holiday companies are in the same boat and it is about demand and supply, and trying to make a profit across the whole season. I do think the best way of dealing with this issue is to change school holidays and have shorter holidays in the summer. My youngest has for the past two years in primary school gone from leaving in the summer in the top set, but by the September struggles and drifts down, only to battle her way back in the first few weeks.

The issue regarding stopping holidays being authorised is not due to the parents who might take their kids out for one week but ensure that attendance is then 100%. It is designed for those who see no value in school and their kids sometimes attend and sometimes do not.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I have now read county legal advice seeking to clarify what is acceptable and what is not.

Firstly (- full disclosure!) what I was previously told regarding the imposition of fines turns out not to be quite correct. There is an electronic system for schools to record all absence. However, regarding holiday absences (and for some other reasons) there is a specific additional procedure whereby the school is expected to submit a Penalty Notice Request, together with relevant details of the case, to the local authority. This applies both to requested holiday absences and cases where absence is suspected to have been for holiday purposes.

The legal advice makes these points:

    · Family bereavement would be considered as ‘exceptional’ due to it being an ‘urgent and unavoidable’ circumstance.
    · Permission should not be given for ‘special’ reasons such as ‘once in a lifetime’ holidays. Permission could be given for ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunities (depending on circumstances and assuming the same opportunity would not be available during school holidays). So an opportunity to meet the Queen might be ‘exceptional’ but a holiday to Disneyland almost certainly not.
    · Financial reasons are unlikely to be ‘exceptional’.
    · Permission might be valid where a family holiday could not be taken during school holidays because a parent is in military service and could not get leave during the school holiday.
    · Health grounds may be valid e.g. the impending health of a family member would make it impossible to travel in future or where the health of someone being visited is failing.


Local authorities would have a local code of conduct to govern the issuing of Penalty Notices. Typically this would mean the issuing of a Penalty where one of the following applies:

    · The child losing more than 20 half-days of school during the current and previous term.
    · Unauthorised holiday absence of at least 10 half-days of children whose attendance is already below 87% in the current academic year or previous academic term.
    · Persistent lateness (late attendance on 20 or more half-days).
    · Excluded child being in a public place during school hours during the first 5 days of the exclusion.



County can access the electronic system at any time. In addition, there will be a review of all absence during the annual county monitoring visit. Ofsted can demand to see anything it wants to see. Therefore schools cannot escape (though could possibly delay) any detection of their failure to implement the new legislative requirements. Headteachers who act outside of legal advice and get creative about what is 'exceptional' do so at their own risk.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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I've only just picked up on this thread - here are my views (I'm prepared to get slaughtered - but really wont give a damm)
I have 2 kids - one now in 6th form. I NEVER taken a ski holiday during school holiday time - I have always taken my kids out of school - and I do the same for summer hols - regardless of what year they are in - yes - including GCSE years! The reason - not so much the price - I just cant stand skiing when its busy - yes I did do it once and it was a complete waste of a good week - it was awful compared to the lovely quiet pistes I am used to during Jan and March - I am not prepared to waste my precious time!!

I simply lie to to school - fortunately my kids are never ill - therefore the odd week now and again I get away with - just use factor 50 to make sure there are no goggle marks!
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
These new rules are just another example of nanny state. Taken away the responsibility of heads and parents to make informed autonomous decisions. I'm sure for the people these rules are aimed at (frequent school absence with no attempt to inform the school) the new rules will make no difference. We took our oldest out for 3 weeks last winter, the school had no issue as he was doing very well and had good attendance. The previous academic year he'd missed all of it as we lived away for a year, he came back more confident kid and within weeks was back at a very good academic level. We've just asked for 2 days off for an early season ski, it's been turned down and marked as unauthorised. We're still going to go and intend taking him for 2 or 3 weeks in the spring term. Probably fine us and apparently they can fine both parents if there are 2, which I find somewhat a discrimination. I wonder if skiing was a religion the time off would be authorised? It's the nearest I have to religion. It's just another reason ( I don't actually need any more) to not live in the UK.
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waynos, a North american-based SH recently made the point that taking kids out of school is not allowed there. Is it allowed in Austria?
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Dippy, I would go along with all your post other than "lying to the school". I feel strongly that that's setting a terrible example to kids; what's so bad about the truth? I often took mine out of school and in my young days I often missed school too. The final responsibility lies, in my view, with parents to do what they think is right for their kids. But if they think it's right they shouldn't hide behind lies. Evil or Very Mad
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pam w, It might not be allowed in NA, but a Utah mountain announced free skiing last week on the day before offical opening between 2 and 4 pm. Highschool kids all took the afternoon off to take advantage Toofy Grin Not quite the same I know, but a great opportunity.

This question will always crop up as prices will always be higher in school holiday time - a question of market forces. Nothing will change it and some folks will keep taking their children out during term time. I've no real answer to the problem, but doesnt affect us. i do feel for families who have to pay through the nose though.
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pam w, speaking personally, what's wrong with telling the truth? Nothing, but lying ensure I won't get hit with 3*£60 fines for unauthorised absence.

Now they probably wouldn't fine for one day end of term, but Northants have been sending lots of threats that they can and will fine everyone.

I've explained to the kids my reasons and that it is wrong and I'm happy we have addressed this with them at an 'adult level'

I know you'll disagee, as is your right, but I think this is correct approach in this instance.

I intend to take them to Tour de France next year and for that, as it is not holiday, I will make it quite clear they are going and I will accept the consequences on that.
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pam w wrote:
waynos, a North american-based SH recently made the point that taking kids out of school is not allowed there. Is it allowed in Austria?
No, but if I were living in Austria during the winter then it wouldn't be an issue. Having said "no" last season in Schladming the schools closed for an extra week as they were being used as part of the Ski World Champs, see, proper priorities. I'm really not a fan of being told what to do by the state, I'm quite capable of making my own sensible decisions or at least engaging in conversation with the school head about matters. At the end of the day we're keep doing what we do and may pay some fines, which will make me even more determined than normal to reduce my tax bill.
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I really have no problem with taking kids out of school - I did it a lot, and would do it now, too - not to save money so much as to avoid those horrendous crowds. I would tell the truth and I would take the risk of a fine; I suspect there's a lot of smoke and mirrors about these fines but it seems to have done the trick of making middle class parents run for cover. rolling eyes They rant on about nanny states etc etc etc but lack the courage of their convictions. So "the authorities" will be able to justify their hard line by pointing to how few parents have chosen to take unauthorised absence. Pathetic. rolling eyes
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pam w, very easy to say you'd do it now, when it is purely hypothetical if you don't mind me saying so. I simply cannot afford to shell out £180 should it come to it - end of.

When we booked this years trip, it was back in June and we had no idea that the rules were due to change. we only discovered it when we asked for the last day of term off to make travel easier. We wouldn't have booked Eurotunnel otherwise.

Call me pathetic if you want, I expect nothing less from you.
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^^ the middle class: is it the only group of people one can still make insulting generalisations about and not be guilty of a criminal offence?
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Boris, You might well NOT be fined (there are a fair few hoops for the authorities to jump expensively through) but even if you were, would you not save that amount by taking a low season trip? You'd save heaps more than that on a package holiday, and even DIY the difference between renting a family apartment at half term and one in mid January or late March would be more than £180. And you think it's OK to teach kids to tell lies? It might be hypothetical for me now but I can assure you I would stick to my guns, tell them that we were going on holiday, and just note that I hope the absence would be authorized. If plenty of parents did that, rather than take the craven way out, they would probably think twice about the rules. They do need to get re-elected, after all and taking the parents of loads of otherwise compliant kids with good attendance records to court would not be great publicity.
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Quote:

the middle class: is it the only group of people one can still make insulting generalisations about and not be guilty of a criminal offence?


Politicians and bankers have had the odd brickbat thrown their way, journalists too, I suspect the middle class are rather more resilient than them and are not in need of legal protection from the occasional insult..
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T Bar, I agree they don't need protection (any many or most wouldn't want it), but lazy insults against groups are all of a piece.
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pam w, lets be clear - we choose to book in the Christmas holidays as it seemed the best option to have a ski trip WITHOUT taking them out of school for a week. We did however think we would be able to take them out for ONE day, Friday 20th December, to travel as past experience would suggest they are going to be doing sweet FA on this day. Plus they finish at 2pm! When the initial request was refused, and we found out about the new rules, we wrote clearing stating our views - was still refused.

No I don't think it is ok to teach the kids to tell lies - I've made it quite clear that this is not the sort of behaviour that I condone, but it is what it is this time. Besides I'll tell the lies.

While you are correct on an idealistic point of view - in reality us "middle class" losers are worried that we may get fined and there may be other consequences - do you realise a high unauthorised absence school may cause house prices to fall!
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
laundryman,
Quote:

but lazy insults against groups are all of a piece.


Equally lacking in intellectual integrity I would agree with you completely, equally poisonous in effect, not always, though some 'class warfare' attitudes of the 60's and 70's were pretty damn stupid.
Think this conversation is rather more après than piste orientated though.
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Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Quote:

do you realise a high unauthorised absence school may cause house prices to fall!


Laughing
If all the parents who are upset with this new diktat from central government (a government which witters hypocritically about rolling back the state rolling eyes ) stood up and did something about it, instead of ducking and weaving, it would probably be changed. It's called civil disobedience and it has a long and honourable history. The threats are really pretty empty.

Go on Boris, go for an unauthorised absence for goodness' sake. If you get fined then I'd be happy to contribute to a snowheads whip-round.
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Poster: A snowHead
My wife is a Headteacher.... And for 20years now we've been unable to skip school for holidays Sad
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pam w, we shall see
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Quote:

And for 20years now we've been unable to skip school for holidays

My daughter and son in law are teachers - I know the problem!
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There is a direct correlation between attendance and attainment. Take the kids out for a skiing trip and they risk failing exams - ok, less important in non-exam years but anyone doing it when their kids are in Y10/11 wants their head examined. As for 'last day doing sod all' - in my classes, Y10 and 11 WORK on their last days, often being set tests (for me to mark over the break whilst the rest of you are lounging around enjoying yourselves!) and other staff in my department are encouraged to do the same thing.

As regards fines - they happen, but I wouldnt worry about it... I'd be more concerned about the kids getting grief and being bullied by their 'mates' cos they're 'loaded' and 'spoiled' enough for mummy and daddy to take them skiing in term-time.... it happens. Or visits from the EWO, or your kids becoming 'outsiders' as they've missed all the fun stuff their mates are doing....
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pam w wrote:
............. how few parents have chosen to take unauthorised absence. Pathetic. rolling eyes


Maybe its simply that parents value their children's education rather more highly nowadays ? After all, I really dont think £60 of fine is sufficient financial penalty to deter those people who can afford to go on a family skiing holiday, irrespective of the time of year they choose to go...
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Boris - have you looked into how they might enforce the fine?
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Quote:

There is a direct correlation between attendance and attainment.


There is a direct correlation between increased Ice-Cream sales and shark attacks as well - no actual link though wink

Assuming you meant causation - brings me back to the original point - the old system where heads had powers based on attendance in previous school year worked well - so why change?
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Thornyhill, The wording is suitably vague with lots of "can" & "may" - they have said that fine has to be proportionate to the offence though.

Also the fine is for each parent - so that would be £180 for me and £180 for Mrs B. I'll be intrigued how they will make that stick as it is surely discriminating against couples Puzzled
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Quote:

Maybe its simply that parents value their children's education rather more highly nowadays ?

I am not being critical of parents who decide to take holidays during school holiday time - that's obviously absolutely fine and sensible. The people I am criticizing are those who decide to miss school and then tell lies about it. Lies which fool absolutely nobody, I suspect, but set a very bad example to kids who will grow up thinking it's OK to "pull a sickie" when it doesn't suit them to go to work.

As for correlations, I hope you don't teach statistics, austin7. I suspect there is also a positive correlation between attainment and ski holidays. Why do you think that might be?
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pam w, just pop back a page and read it again. I have a post on there which explains what happened to me and homers double has one too. The basic gist of these two posts is that head teachers agree that this policy is daft but that their hands are tied and have said - to me quite clearly - that it is better for all concerned if the child's absence is recorded as sickness rather than unauthorised. No risk of fine to parents and no unauthorised absence which looks bad for the school. I completely agree with you about lying and I suspect most folks on here do too, but now it appears to benefit no one to be truthful in this situation which is very sad but that is how it is. So please don't slate people for lying when they are actually being encouraged to do so. FWIW the absence we took a couple of years ago went down as unauthorised but after my discussion with the head if I was doing it again I would phone sick.
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