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Taking kids out of school - just check the rules first

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Blimey - I rather thought I was going to get comprehensively savaged by one and all, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a fair few in agreement. I obviously need to up my game a bit Very Happy
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
foxtrotzulu,
Well I disagree with you anyway. wink
Quote:

Skiing holidays are fun, but they are not essential. No holiday is essential........ Taking children out of school or not is, at the end of the day, a personal decision but what I struggle to understand is the idea that there is nothing wrong with it


Holidays are not essential neither is 100% attendance at school though both may at times be desirable .
However holidays do serve a purpose they enable families to destress together and quite probably help them to stay together and they give different generations shared experiences.

Even if we don't regard family life as desirable in itself ( And what is the point of living if we do not what are we living for?) having a settled family life is almost certainly of educational benefit. Far more of my contemporaries performed poorly academically when their family life became disrupted than when they had the odd extra couple of days holiday.

I endeavoured to take my children out of school as little as possible, however there were times when because they were at one time at different schools and their holidays did not coincide or because I was unable to get time from work during school holiday time I took the children out of school. I always sort the schools permission and it was given freely and considered a good idea by the head teacher.

I find the new rules frankly authoritarian and inflexible when considering the many different circumstances that people find themselves in. When people are not allowed a single day off to attend important family occasions the concept is virtually fascist in its determining of how people should live their lives. I am grateful that as my youngest is coming to the end of her school days I am not living under the choice of lying or punitive and absurd fines.
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Quote:
When people are not allowed a single day off to attend important family occasions the concept is virtually fascist in its determining of how people should live their lives


My nieces, nephews and my cousin's children ( 2 of them were bridesmaids and nieces of the bride) were recently refused permission to attend a family wedding. They had already been granted it in advance of the rule change but this was later withdrawn. It was not considered an exceptional circumstance.
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Quote:

They had already been granted it in advance of the rule change but this was later withdrawn. It was not considered an exceptional circumstance.

I find that utterly ridiculous and would just ignore it. AFAIK we have yet to see any of these "punitive" fines. Call the man's bluff. Huffing and puffing on the internet about it is a waste of time and will fur up your arteries.
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pam w, it was ignored, and my sister did tell head that in future she would just ring in and say her daughters were ill.
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Quote:

Huffing and puffing on the internet about it is a waste of time


Oi pam w, take that away and how will I fill my day Shocked wink
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Hells Bells,
Quote:

My nieces, nephews and my cousin's children ( 2 of them were bridesmaids and nieces of the bride) were recently refused permission to attend a family wedding. They had already been granted it in advance of the rule change but this was later withdrawn. It was not considered an exceptional circumstance.

I think in this case, and in Boris's case, it's very bad luck considering arrangements were made before the rule change and I have every sympathy for them. Personally I think this should have been classified as an exceptional circumstance. Purely because the wedding was planned before the changes were announced. (What was the lead in time?) However, if you plan a wedding for a weekday during term-time it shouldn't generally come as a surprise that children and many adults already have commitments.

T Bar, AIUI where it is otherwise impossible for a family to spend time together (e.g. a soldier returning from overseas duty with fixed/limited leave) then exceptions are made. However, the bulk of comments on this thread relate to people simply finding it cheaper/more convenient to take time off school.

There are enough teachers on this forum to confirm this, but I assume that the core problem was that the definition of 'exceptional circumstances' had become so stretched with far too many children taking days off for wholly avoidable reasons that the DfE felt they needed to enforce the original principle more rigorously. The idea of giving head teachers discretion is fine, but I rather suspect that too many were reluctant to stick their necks out and jeopardise their relationship with the parents by refusing permission. Consequently there was little choice but to have this rather firm edict from on high.

We can argue what counts as an exceptional circumstance but however you cut it "I've booked a skiing holiday during term time because it was cheaper" is unlikely to make the grade.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Have been reading some of this with interest, as we are taking our two eldest grandchildren skiing for the first time in February - during term time. The choice of date is not to save money - MrsS is allocated holidays so it is then or never, and it will be the only holiday the girls get next year. When first mentioned to the teachers (before the latest changes) the response was that of course they must go! This term when raised again, the response was that they can't miss an opportunity like that - but it would be unauthorised. With recent mutterings and publicity about fines I thought I would research the position here - the school has an attendance policy, published in May 2013 - where the only "sanction" is a possible referral to the County Council AIO (Attendance Improvement Officer) for unauthorised holidays of more than 4 days. I went to the County Council website - and looked at the role of the AIO - and it is to work in consultation with school and parents to improve attendance, with no mention at all of any process to issue fines. In these circumstances I can't see how they can impose arbitrary fines when it is not published policy of either the school or council to do so.
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Further to the above - it seems that Norfolk County Council are just somewhat slow in implementing policy changes - I have found guidance issued to Headteachers and Chairs of Governors on 1st November, detailing process to follow where fixed penalty notices may be issued - this includes Attendance Policy changes to be published on school websites, and warning letters to be sent out at the start of every term. No Fixed Penalty Notices will be issued without evidence of these being done - we will have to wait and see if the school complies with this by the start of next term, as they certainly haven't yet.
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foxtrotzulu, the wedding was organised well in advance, and was only on a Friday instead of Saturday 14th as the priest already had a wedding at another parish on the Saturday. It had to be that weekend to coincide with the visit of the groom's family who were coming from USA. Bride was well aware that people may have had commitments on the day.
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Hells Bells, The problem with this whole issue is largely the transition period. If the bride had known of the new regime beforehand she could have made an informed decision. Change the wedding day/time, change the venue, choose different bridesmaids or just go ahead regardless and the bridesmaids' parents accept the consequences. Once we get used to the idea that taking children out of school is not something to be done lightly then life gets rather simpler.

In an ideal world head teachers would be able to weigh up the pros and cons of each absence request and decide accordingly. I know that's the way that it was being done before, but it plainly wasn't working if (and I stress the word 'IF') people were taking their children out of school for a whole week just because it was cheaper. For whatever reason head teachers were seemingly unable to say 'no' to these requests.

RobinS, Once again, it's the rule change that has caused you a problem. However, I am curious. Was there really not a single week during the entire year that your wife's holiday could have been arranged to coincide with school holidays? Not Christmas, Easter, Summer, or any half-term?
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
foxtrotzulu, I freely admit that when kids were in early stages of Primary school, price was one of the main reasons for taking them skiing. This however was with full permission of the school under the OLD rules of 10 days per year were permitted PROVIDING child had greater than 95% attendance. There was no question of having to prove exceptional circumstances, it was permitted at head-teachers discretion if your child was generally at school.

This 95% figure is now being banded about in Northants as the critical level below which children's education starts to suffer - I accept that, BUT this was recognised under the OLD system.

Now since the children moved to secondary school and later years of Primary school, we have always gone on ALL holidays during school holiday periods. We have been allowed to take an extra day on last day of term to fit our travel arrangements with no problem. Now I also accepty that I should have obtained permission from the school before booking Eurotunnel and overnight hotels this year, I didn't as a) I assumed there would be no issue and b) I was unaware the rules were changing.

Now as has been outlined there are numerous reasons why holidays are required in term-time, price isn't always the factor, as there are millions of people who have to take their leave when they are told. Armed forces as stated, but also NHS, pilots, Energy Sector workers (me) you name it.

There won't be agreement here, hey this is snowHead, but for me (and I can only speak for me) what really pishes me off is:

1. The old system worked and was flexible - new one isn't IMO
2. The old system was based on 95% attendance - so poor performers would not be allowed leave
3. The old system gave power to school - this is now removed
4. The new system will not address the people who abuse the system and/or just don't care - it will just go after the soft targets

I stated earlier in this thread that I think this new system will be quietly dropped within the next 2-years when it is either found not to be working and/or the level of sickness and unauthorised absence has sky-rocketed (or house prices have fallen wink ) - I shall watch with interest.

I haven't decided what to do about 20th December yet, but I WILL be taking them out for Tour de France and will accept the consequences for that as I believe I have a stronger argument.

I am also wondering who will be the first MP who is caught taking kids away out of holidays who doesn't follow the rules - bound to be one!
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foxtrotzulu, MrsS gets allocated holidays - years in advance, the only way to "arrange" a date is to agree a swap with another employee - and since the majority want school holidays, (either for holidays or childcare) it is impossible to swap a term week for a holiday week. This is not normally a problem for us, as we are grandparents and just taking the two for a special treat that their parents could not afford. It does though show the new rules can impact a working family, as where she works is a low paid industry where family breadwinners can barely afford a holiday, let alone fines on top.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Boris, Please remember that I wasn't suggesting your decision was wrong as it was not of your own making.

AIUI the old rules allowed the following:

The Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 currently allow headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a family holiday during term time in “special circumstances” of up to ten school days leave per year.

I'm not sure who in the DfE created that definition but I assume the problem is that over the years the ten days has become taken for granted and the 'special circumstances' clause has fallen by the wayside.

Regarding your individual points:



Quote:

1. The old system worked and was flexible - new one isn't IMO
2. The old system was based on 95% attendance - so poor performers would not be allowed leave
3. The old system gave power to school - this is now removed
4. The new system will not address the people who abuse the system and/or just don't care - it will just go after the soft targets


1. Are we sure that the old system did work? Clearly some people thought otherwise. If parents were being given permission for holidays in term time purely for reasons of price then clearly it wasn't working. I'd like to know what the teachers thought and how easy head teachers felt it was to refuse permission.
2. Surely the point is that the 95% represented a trigger point, not what teachers of the DfE thought was ideal.
3. Giving power to the school and keeping the DfE out is a far better system, as long as it is working. If the 'special circumstances' clause is being routinely abused and schools are unable to enforce it then I think shifting responsibility for enforcement to council/DfE is probably sensible.
4. You assume that the only issue they are trying to address is that of the persistent truants. I agree that is a major problem, but it is not just the high-level truancy of the few that is an issue, but also the low-level truancy of the majority.

I keep coming back to the idea that we have ended up with a rather draconian and inflexible system (not ideal) because the previous flexibility has been abused. If a parent can't trust his child to only eat one sweet a day from the sweet tin and is unable to enforce the rule then inevitably they end up just not allowing sweets. All too often the minority also spoil it for the majority.


RobinS, I hate to sound hard-hearted, but surely the point of 'special circumstances' or 'exceptional circumstances' is so that the parents can spend valuable family time with their children. Grandparents spending time with their grandchildren is not really the same thing. Presumably that is the same reason why Mrs S isn't typically allocated holiday during the holidays as would be normal for parents.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
FWIW the NAO published a report on school absence. Some of the findings:

1. Head teachers listed family holidays as the second most significant cause of absence. (After illness and ahead of medical appointments, truancy with parents' knowledge and excluded pupils.
2. “Better attendance at school by pupils improves their educational achievements and, in turn, their lives and prospects. Even a small reduction in absence would result in many pupils receiving greater benefit from their education.
3. Each day 7% of children do not attend school.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
foxtrotzulu, I disagree that the low level truancy of the majority is an issue - generally the children will have above 95% attendance, have parents who will ensure homework and catch up work is done and spend quality family time together.

Being cynical it is however easier to go after the soft targets of parents who take their kids out for a few days, than it is to tackle the real problems.

Quote:

All too often the minority also spoil it for the majority.

Yes

Think the middle classes are upset now, wait and see if this rumoured ban on packed lunches ever comes into play!!!
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My children's school is rather helpfully going back on the 18th of April, a Friday. I think I will plead stupidity, as I have just seen a cheap apartment for that week.
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Quote:

Being cynical it is however easier to go after the soft targets of parents who take their kids out for a few days, than it is to tackle the real problems.
On the basis that term-time family holidays are, according to head teachers, the second most significant cause of absence after illness then I assume that you regard illness as the 'real problem'?
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So far at school this term my kids have already or will do the following:

Spent a whole day on a skipping workshop
Spend a whole day as part of a whole school trip going to a whole school trip to see a pantomime
Spend a whole day visititng a University Campus
Spend a whole day sorting out and giving a Nativity Performance
Spend a whole week doing an enterprise week culminating with a day running their own stall at school
Spend the last 2 days of term playing games and having their class parties

Now I won't argue the educational benefit or otherwise of the above activities, but against these it seems double standards that the Heads have had removed from them the ability to say 'yes' to even one let alone 10 days holiday request set against knowledge of a particular family's situation and the child's personal educational and attendance records that year. When there is an educational benefit to every holiday - whether taken in the UK or not. If there wasn't then how do the school justify running their own holidays, which often include that of particular relevance for this forum - the school ski trip!!
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foxtrotzulu,
No I regard the real problem those children who aer playing truant 2-3 days a week if not more, whose parents don't give a toss. Which this new rule will do nothing to tackle.
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Quote:

Spent a whole day on a skipping workshop


personally I'd have skipped school for that
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foxtrotzulu,
Quote:

RobinS, I hate to sound hard-hearted, but surely the point of 'special circumstances' or 'exceptional circumstances' is so that the parents can spend valuable family time with their children. Grandparents spending time with their grandchildren is not really the same thing. Presumably that is the same reason why Mrs S isn't typically allocated holiday during the holidays as would be normal for parents.


I have no strong complaint about this from our point of view - as you say as grandparents it is different - just we able to give them their one holiday for the year, and go skiing as part of it. The point is that if we were parents MrsS holidays would be exactly the same - there are no special rights to school holidays - one year you could be lucky and get a couple of weeks during holiday time - the next none at all. The "rules" take no account of this sort of position - denying colleagues of MrsS the chance of any family holiday at all.

My original post was really to point out that schools and council have not even got their act together to enforce the new rules.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Oh well, kids off sick the 18th of April. Two trips booked. Xmas and Easter, blimey.
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blahblahblah, ah that well known Easter Vomiting Bug
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RobinS,
Quote:

The "rules" take no account of this sort of position - denying colleagues of MrsS the chance of any family holiday at all.
Is it the rules, or is it Mrs S's employer? There are many jobs that don't sit well with family holidays, although IME most employers work pretty hard to ensure that parents can take at least some of their holiday during at least one of the school holidays, and usually the summer. I remember this well from having been on the other end of this issue when, as a single, I was not allowed to take time off during the summer hols and no more than the bare minimum over Christmas. Happily skiing was never a problem!
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Boris wrote:
blahblahblah, ah that well known Easter Vomiting Bug


The mushette has caught that early, and sprained her ankle. She'd better be fully fit by Christmas...
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
2 ski holidays !!! I am so happy. Even with the vomiting bug.
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Hmm just wondering which is the lesser of 2 evils

1. Taking kids out of school for weeks skiing mid-Jan
2. Leaving them home alone for a week and go skiing myself

Daft as it may be - as I understand it, taking them skiing is illegal now, but I am breaking no rules by leaving them home alone! There is no rule saying at what age you can leave a child and you can only be prosecuted if they come to harm. Now for a week they would be ok I'm sure Toofy Grin
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Megamum,
Quote:

Spent a whole day on a skipping workshop
Spend a whole day as part of a whole school trip going to a whole school trip to see a pantomime
Spend a whole day visititng a University Campus
Spend a whole day sorting out and giving a Nativity Performance
Spend a whole week doing an enterprise week culminating with a day running their own stall at school
Spend the last 2 days of term playing games and having their class parties


Put like that a month's skiing compares quite well although sadly I fear two wrongs don't make a right.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
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laundryman wrote:
Boris wrote:
foxtrotzulu, they are not enforcing an existing rule - they've changed the rules

That what I thought. At least in the distant past, I thought parents had the right to withdraw their children from school for up to 10 days per year for a family holiday. There's an allusion to that in this article:

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/10645982.Parents_warned_against_taking_children_out_of_school_during_term_time/


this is correct. 10 days was allowed - with prior approval. The child had to have an attendance level above a certain % before approval would be given. Its was a great policy IMO - conscientious parents who got their kids to school for the great majority of time were allowed pre-approved time off in term time. Now everyone is pooled together - no time off. Those who previously didnt get their kids to school because they simply couldnt be arsed will continue to do the same. The real problem makers have not been addressed.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
Megamum,
Quote:

Spent a whole day on a skipping workshop
Spend a whole day as part of a whole school trip going to a whole school trip to see a pantomime
Spend a whole day visititng a University Campus
Spend a whole day sorting out and giving a Nativity Performance
Spend a whole week doing an enterprise week culminating with a day running their own stall at school
Spend the last 2 days of term playing games and having their class parties


Put like that a month's skiing compares quite well although sadly I fear two wrongs don't make a right.


^ they all seem like reasonable activities to me that make school more than the 3 r's - helps engage kids and gives them valuable life skills (school stall= sales skills, Nativity=confidence in presentation skills, pantomime=everyone deserves some fun and its good for those that would never have had the opportunity outside of school, skipping = like it or not, working parents equal parents with less time with their kids just having fun...thats why family holidays are so important and why this rule is sooooooooo wrong.)
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Shimmy Alcott, you are correct, I still drop my kids in about 9.30, they like the lie in, and are top if their class.

9.30 is early in Croydon.
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foxtrotzulu,
Quote:

T Bar, AIUI where it is otherwise impossible for a family to spend time together (e.g. a soldier returning from overseas duty with fixed/limited leave) then exceptions are made.

There are plenty of occasions where it is difficult for families to take time off together for instance a wedding that is mutually suitable for many members of an extended family,it is already apparent that this is not considered an adequate reason.
When faced by an unresponsive and probably expensive bureaucracy with targets to reach the tendency is to lie to them as has already been shown in this thread this appears to be encouraged and colluded with by several headmasters.
Frankly the system appears utterly idiotic.
It reminds me of Winston Smiths vision of the future of a Jackboot forever stamping on your face.
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blahblahblah wrote:
Oh well, kids off sick the 18th of April. Two trips booked. Xmas and Easter, blimey.


That is because 18th is Good Friday and hence a bank holiday, so no need for them to be sick.
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As I posted a few pages back my son had 0% attendance for Year 1, attended kindergarten in Austria instead. On returning to the same school and class he was up to speed within weeks and was an able skier, more confident person, had a whole load of new experiences. Okay it's only Year 1 but all these people insisting quantity over quality, please give it a rest, I think upbringing and a kids parents make more difference to their education than missing a small amount of time at school.
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Most experienced primary teachers could give you a pretty clear read-out in P1 of each child's likely trajectory through the education system. That di is cast long before they are in secondary school worrying about ski trips.
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We are taking our 6 year old out of school to go skiing, have been told by the school yesterday that they need 'lots of evidence' why we are taking that week. A letter will be sent back to them saying that i refuse to disclose this information - I wouldn't take any child out whilst in secondary school but i think infant school is another matter.
Does anyone know if the school found out who we were booked with if they would contact the holiday company?
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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!
Ironically we were due to go the previous week over new year but were moved due to a large school party
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Quote:

Does anyone know if the school found out who we were booked with if they would contact the holiday company?




Only if it was a very weird school.

Even if they did, so what?
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samuelsdad wrote:
Ironically we were due to go the previous week over new year but were moved due to a large school party


I hope you got a major refund the difference in price from new year to week later is massive
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