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Taking kids out of school - just check the rules first

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Hells Bells, While I don't know the exact location of the school I struggle to imagine that access will be so bad that teachers can't get their even if they have to walk the last mile. Interesting that they might be worried about coverage. Surely the parents would find it just as hard to get to school so pupil numbers would be down as well. Or they could arrange accommodation locally if it's going to be really bad. Do we presume that the race will come through the area of the school to a roar of deafening silence or do we suspect that somehow the TdF spectators will manage to get there? Either way, it does sound a bit wimpy.
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Well I could mention that our daughters school closed due to snow year before last yet my hubby had no trouble commuting 20miles to work, yet teachers couldn't get it. Yes it took longer to do the commute but perfectly doable with care.
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Hells Bells, While I don't know the exact location of the school I struggle to imagine that access will be so bad that teachers can't get their even if they have to walk the last mile. Interesting that they might be worried about coverage. Surely the parents would find it just as hard to get to school so pupil numbers would be down as well. Or they could arrange accommodation locally if it's going to be really bad. Do we presume that the race will come through the area of the school to a roar of deafening silence or do we suspect that somehow the TdF spectators will manage to get there? Either way, it does sound a bit wimpy.

kieranm, Can I ask where your daughter's school is? Details as precise as you feel like giving.
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But would it be doable if the roads were closed from 4am? I checked the website and some places are closed from 4am and some from 7am, all will be shut until at least 3pm.
Accommodation on the route is likely to be in very short supply (friends had accommodation booked months ago) and teachers have family commitments at home too, meaning it isn't always feasible to stay near school.
Pupils tend to live nearer to their school than their teachers (in my fairly limited experience) , especially in primary school.
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Off topic I know but I can't understand how often people use traffic or weather conditions as an excuse to not attend their place of work. Neither traffic or weather has even stopped us getting to work. I have driven 90 miles in snow only to be told to go home as people 1 or 2 miles away it seems couldn't get work.

Lazy, work shy bar stewards looking for an excuse not to come to work.

Anyway I'll let you lot get it back on topic.
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Hells Bells, As far as I can see the areas being closed are seldom more than a mile square. I have no doubt the traffic will be horrendous, but so what? If spectators can get to the race, then so can the teachers. They may have to get there a couple of hours earlier than normal and stay a few hours later, but that's their responsibility, not the school's. I'm pretty sure most teachers would bust a gut to get there so I don't understand why the school are so wet.
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Quote:

I'm pretty sure most teachers would bust a gut to get there


Most, doesn't mean all, and there are minimum staffing levels, and costs with bringing in temp teachers. Heads are effectively running a business so they have to make a call on that basis.

Would be interesting to search book of face and twitter to see how many people, teachers or other profession who can't make it into work are on the race route waving flags and taking selfies.

Remember work has better access to Facebook and Twitter than you think they do!!!??
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TdF is a once in a life time event if you are not on the regular route can't see why the school a close to the event shouldn't close for the day like they do for royal weddings and other such assorted events.
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If I were living in England, I'd be delighted at the opportunity to let the kids watch the probably once-in-a-lifetime view of the Tour de France coming through their local area without having to take "unauthorised leave". As it is, it is usually school holidays when it comes through these parts, but can guarantee the kids would get a day off school when it comes through the village otherwise, even though it's a relatively regular feature. Sure, not all the parents from the schools are going to be able to get the time off work, but surely you can club together with other parents so the kids get to experience it? Or is that me being terribly naive?
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ah, cross post with T Bar!
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T Bar, miranda, I agree, but the reason mentioned was travel difficulties.

Also the Womens Tour passed by Youngest school a couple of weeks ago, they were all walked out to watch 5 minutes of fast ladies cycle past, I think it was 40 minutes out of class time for that to make sure they didn't miss it..... (NB. It would have taken them all of 5 minutes to walk from the class to the point they watched from). Just saying....
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ansta1, unfortunately I don't think the Women's race attracts quite the same amount of attention, traffic, road closures etc.

Here are the "crowds" when the MEN'S Tour comes past our front door:

_Z6K9615 Small

Still, despite the lack of crowds, roads in and out of the village closed for hours before, meaning secondary school kids would have to have the day off. No need to close the primary school but I bet they would have done anyway as the kids would definitely have to watch the locals being a "giant human bike" Laughing (you can see said "human bike" in the youtube clip).


http://youtube.com/v/yXqkvg5MTKM


Last edited by And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports. on Mon 2-06-14 19:48; edited 3 times in total
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Quote:

It would have taken them all of 5 minutes to walk from the class to the point they watched from

there speaks somebody who has never had to get 30 kids organised to go anywhere, with responsibility for their safety in a crowded event. wink I think the school is to be applauded for making sure the kids saw something of the race - which they'd no doubt discussed in class, too. Plus it was top female athletes - we've discussed that before!

It would be much easier for a teacher just to carry on in the classroom with the usual routine.
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You know it makes sense.
miranda, That doesn't look like the women's TdF. Gender testing required?
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foxtrotzulu, have edited my post for you.
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pam w, I agree, I was pretty pleased to see the kids were being encouraged to watch a women's cycling race too.
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FTZ said
Quote:

broadly speaking I think that schools are in a better place to decide what is in the best educational interests of our children.

the staff (including the head) that I have spoken to at my daughters primary school are not in favour of the changes at all. They were happy with the old system.
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pam w wrote:
Quote:

It would have taken them all of 5 minutes to walk from the class to the point they watched from

there speaks somebody who has never had to get 30 kids organised to go anywhere, with responsibility for their safety in a crowded event. wink I think the school is to be applauded for making sure the kids saw something of the race - which they'd no doubt discussed in class, too. Plus it was top female athletes - we've discussed that before!

It would be much easier for a teacher just to carry on in the classroom with the usual routine.



I am sorry Pam clearly I didn't make myself clear.....


After organising the children, getting the appropriate health and safety sign off, putting the Hi vis bibs on, making sure they have a snack and a drink and have been appraised of the lost person routine, it would have taken 2 minutes from classroom door to viewing. In fact it is less than 2 metres from school gate to viewing of the ride past. They could have all crowded up at the school fence and watched it had they not had to have lots of planting to appease neighbours and other child protection issues.
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I'm taking my kids out of school for the first time in Jan for 3 days. Haven't told the school yet but holiday is booked and paid for so it's going ahead. Will see how much of the hump they get but age 5 it can't be that bad.
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miranda, the UK is a little less event friendly and generally the rolling road blocks are quite tight event wise. It was a 1 hour window I think for the women's tour which was 20 minutes either side of the estimated first, last rider. Apart from the last few clicks into the finish.
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I was really pleased that someone in the PR department got the schools out - was brilliant to see such fab crowds for the Womens tour and I really hope it becomes a permanent feature.

Shimmy Alcott, quite - the head at daughters school has been very vocal on the subject and the boys form tutors are very supportive of the 2 days we have taken them out
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Quote:

the staff (including the head) that I have spoken to at my daughters primary school are not in favour of the changes at all

but it's probably a very minor irritation in the whole raft of changes which are being constantly flung at them.
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ansta1, yes, I can see that they would be a little less event friendly, which is why I reckon there'll be transport problems for such a big event (the women's tour was never going to attract anything like the attention the men's tour will). I do feel sorry for the kids here occasionally when it's dumped tons of snow overnight but, still, the school bus is there bang on time waiting for them Laughing My thirty something friend was telling me that one year when she was a teenager, she and some friends were at the ski area after their Wednesday PE session, just hanging out in a cafe, when the mayor came in and said everyone had to get on the bus and go home immediately as the road was going to close due to avalanche risk. A couple of them hid themselves, thinking it would be hilarious to get the following day off school… a few days of being snowed in on their own with nothing to do but play cards, and it didn't seem quite so fun after all...
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pam w, well, when Ive spoken to the staff and head none of them have said "but its just a minor irritation"
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ansta1 wrote:
pam w wrote:
Quote:

It would have taken them all of 5 minutes to walk from the class to the point they watched from

there speaks somebody who has never had to get 30 kids organised to go anywhere, with responsibility for their safety in a crowded event. wink I think the school is to be applauded for making sure the kids saw something of the race - which they'd no doubt discussed in class, too. Plus it was top female athletes - we've discussed that before!

It would be much easier for a teacher just to carry on in the classroom with the usual routine.



I am sorry Pam clearly I didn't make myself clear.....


After organising the children, getting the appropriate health and safety sign off, putting the Hi vis bibs on, making sure they have a snack and a drink and have been appraised of the lost person routine, it would have taken 2 minutes from classroom door to viewing. In fact it is less than 2 metres from school gate to viewing of the ride past. They could have all crowded up at the school fence and watched it had they not had to have lots of planting to appease neighbours and other child protection issues.


Thoughts Pam?
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Shimmy Alcott, I was just making the point that teachers are having constant huge changes thrust upon them - the exams aren't staying the same even for a few years at a time, there's a lot for them to put up with. Compared to a lot of the changes these absence ones aren't huge - and as reported by several parents on this thread, and others of my acquaintance, including my son and daughter in law, there has been very little problem when they've wanted to take some days off and have talked to teachers about it. The Daily Mail likes to make out it's the end of civilisation as we know it and a lot of the people making very strong statements about the policy appear to have swallowed the Mail's bait rather than taking the trouble to read the relevant documentation explaining how it works. It's particularly unfair if they blame teachers who have nothing to do with it and just get moaned at.

ansta1, my thoughts are that the kids were lucky to have been taken out of class to see the cycling. And that getting them organised to get out, wait for the cycling, watch them cycle past and then get the excited, chattery, kids back into the class and calmed down again would have taken a sight more than five minutes. Especially if it was raining - which I believe it was, for a fair bit of the women's tour.

I think it's a pity if parents make a fuss about kids being given this sort of little extra excitement in the day. I fear the time will come when teachers will just take the easy way out and refuse to take kids out of school at all - it's a major hassle. I wonder if there was any positive feedback about the little jaunt to see the cyclists?
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miranda wrote:
Have I missed something? The headmaster apologised unreservedly for not realising the request was for a funeral, said he took all the blame for the mistake, and that they would make sure a similar mistake didn't happen again… and the girl still went to her grandfather's funeral… why is that in the newspaper??!


But if it was up to the parents to decide, and enforcement was only carried out against persistent truants, then the whole debacle wouldn't have happened in the first place.

Yes is was a mistake, yes they held their hands up and admitted it was, but it didn't stop the upset at the time.
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feef, So, just to clarify, are you suggesting that as long as attendance is 85% or more it should be up to the parents to authorise their own absences? Can we seriously trust all parents to comply with that or wouldn't it just become a new rule that says 'you can have an extra 28.5 days holiday a year whenever you like without having to justify it to anyone'?
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Maybe benefits could be linked to attendance. And for balance,

If middle class kids are under performing, schools could
say no absence in the "skiing terms"

All problems solved.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
feef, So, just to clarify, are you suggesting that as long as attendance is 85% or more it should be up to the parents to authorise their own absences? Can we seriously trust all parents to comply with that or wouldn't it just become a new rule that says 'you can have an extra 28.5 days holiday a year whenever you like without having to justify it to anyone'?


I didn't say anything about 85%, equally I'd expect those that may pull kids out of school for whatever reason were doing it for a good reason. Certainly, there'll be abuses but there's abuses in every aspect of life. There's FAR more broken things in the English education system that I doubt very much that enforced attendance would really make that big a difference to the results.

Surely the benefits of education should be for the children, and not for the schools league standing or the government's bragging rights? IMHO a good family holiday in a way which exposes the children to new experiences, cultures and languages is a beneficial thing even no matter what.

It doesn't hurt the children on the Isle of Man when the entire island is closed for the TT

It doesn't hurt those kids who go on a school ski trip during term time

It's politicians satisfying the 'something must be done' mob and nothing else.


http://youtube.com/v/vidzkYnaf6Y
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foxtrotzulu wrote:
feef, So, just to clarify, are you suggesting that as long as attendance is 85% or more it should be up to the parents to authorise their own absences? Can we seriously trust all parents to comply with that or wouldn't it just become a new rule that says 'you can have an extra 28.5 days holiday a year whenever you like without having to justify it to anyone'?



So you would rather leave it to a corrupt gov ?

Nobody is suggesting trusting all parents you trust the ones who work with the school want and encourage their kids to do their best. Someone who does not bother making sure their kids go to school would not qualify.


If the attendance is above 95% then I think 5 days without any question asked 10 if you have reasonable reasons ( not even going down route of talking about reasonable so just use common sense ). anything above 10 days has to be exceptional.

Also good attitude at school by the student I do not think it would be fair to stop a child who is not the best academically if they are working their guts out to do their best if they then see a really smart kid not showing much interest/participation but getting high grades getting time off, but this would need a bit more support from the head.
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feef, you referred to 'persistent truants' in your post. The current definition AFAIK is 85% attendance or less. There may well be other more 'broken things' with the education system, but if the independent experts tell you that improving attendance is one of the things that will help, then why would you not do it?

A good family holiday can indeed be educationally beneficial and nobody is disputing that. The point is that you are mean to take them in the holidays. The clue's in the name. However, if we're being honest I think we'd admit that the educational value of a typical week on the beach in Spain or on the slopes in Austria is extremely limited.

speed098, I'm not sure there has been any significant evidence of corruption with this Government has there? Mercer, Miller and possibly Laws, but they were pretty small isolated cases. Regarding your suggested attendance regime, how on earth do you know if the parent wants time off for a family funeral or a day's shopping? I agree with everyone here that it would be wonderful if the school was given more flexibility to decide, but that's what we had and it wasn't working. The 10 days of 'special circumstances' was never intended to be used as an extra holiday allowance and Heads felt unable to rein in the old system. Can you imagine the outcry if a Head was to says that child A could have time off because they were bright and on top of their work, but child B is a bit thick and struggling so he can't go. The idea of rewarding good attendance by allowing poor attendance seems bonkers. How can you send a message to parents that says 'It is vital that your child attends school. Every day of their education lost is to the detriment of the pupil. So, to reward you for ensuring that Little Johnnie has not spent ten days bunking off to smoke cigarettes down the shopping centre we are rewarding you with permission to take ten days off on the beach in Ibiza.

As I've said before, I have sympathy for those who absolutely cannot take a single week's holiday with their children anywhere in the world at any time during the 13 weeks available. However, in the vast majority of cases mentioned this is not the case.
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There's a difference, too, between attendance by a kid who does no work and diesnt give a poo-poo about their education, and a kid who takes a week off to do something interesting and catches up on their schoolwork while away. One is educated without attendance, and one is attending without education. As it is, I'm seeing more and more work apathy where people have no ambition, put in no real effort, but expect to be paid for turning up, indeed, expect promotion for turning up.

We should award those who achieve, irrespective of other factors. Not punish those who do achieve for taking a few days off and working it all out.

A report recently showed that over 60% of those classified as "high earners" in the uk took time out of term-time for things other than funerals or other "exceptional circumstances"

Just as the ELA teaches kids how to take benefits, this demonstrates that attendance is more important than performance.
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Equally, those taking a single week out for a trip tend not to be the persistent truants, nor are the ones that would benefit most from improved attendance. Again, punish everyone for the actions of the lowest common denominator.
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foxtrotzulu,

Corruption comes in many forms not just fiddling your expenses. How many things have they done that were not on their manifesto ? Bedroom tax or whatever you want to call it is corrupt, if it was a fair tax then those severely over crowded would get a discount, those who want to move to smaller houses but there are non would not get fined.

But back to the point re schools.

For upto 5 days who cares what it is for, by far the vast majority would use it sensibly they just need to log the day/dates with the school in advance. After that they need to state to the school so yes going away on day "X" a schoolday is £500 cheaper for flights would be acceptable, BUT it would not be if the total took it over the 10 days.

As you put it "child B is a bit thick and struggling so he can't go" yes that child could go if trying their best equally A* Johnnie who mucks about but hey beats Einstein's IQ by 20 would not get to go.

We live in a society of rewards, failed bankers bonuses anyone? Kids who cause trouble have run in with the law as rewards get to go to theme parks get consoles ( not sure if to just play). our school a few years ago rewarded the worst little sh*t in the area with over £400. He was told in his final year around October about it and that if he did not buck his ideas up he would not stand a chance so hey he turned up for school he went to classes he did not pass a single exam smoked the money away on illegal drugs and is still a complete sh*t


With your statement re rewarding good attendance with time off don't the schools already do this with the trips to places such as theme parks and others with ski trips in term time or trips to Paris with then a day in Disney ?

I agree for many they can go on holiday etc during school hols but there are a significant number who either financially or due to leave constraints can not, so why should they be punished? Bboth a well off and a poor family may work very hard do very rewarding jobs but hey who cares you can't go on holiday like the little sh*t down the road who's parent throws a sicky at work to get extra time off ( and yes I do know people who have done that to go on holiday).
So either the schools Local Gov and State are the biggest hypocrites going or it needs changing.
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speed098,
Quote:

Corruption comes in many forms not just fiddling your expenses. How many things have they done that were not on their manifesto ? Bedroom tax or whatever you want to call it is corrupt, if it was a fair tax then those severely over crowded would get a discount, those who want to move to smaller houses but there are non would not get fined.
I don't think anyone has ever suggested that Governments are not allowed to do things that were not in their manifesto. Even if the Conservatives had specifically said 'We will not introduce a bedroom tax' then a. failure to adhere to that promise may be wrong, but it's not corruption, b. We have a coalition, so neither party could keep all it's promises, c. we have to understand that events affect what you can/cannot do; e.g. Liam Byrne's note saying 'the cupboard is bare', and d. how can you call it a bedroom 'tax' when you are handing out money, albeit less?

Quote:

As you put it "child B is a bit thick and struggling so he can't go" yes that child could go if trying their best equally A* Johnnie who mucks about but hey beats Einstein's IQ by 20 would not get to go.

Surely the point is that child B is the one who can't afford to miss school.


Quote:

With your statement re rewarding good attendance with time off don't the schools already do this with the trips to places such as theme parks and others with ski trips in term time or trips to Paris with then a day in Disney ?

They do, and it's absolutely crazy.


Quote:

I agree for many they can go on holiday etc during school hols but there are a significant number who either financially or due to leave constraints can not, so why should they be punished? Bboth a well off and a poor family may work very hard do very rewarding jobs but hey who cares you can't go on holiday like the little sh*t down the road who's parent throws a sicky at work to get extra time off ( and yes I do know people who have done that to go on holiday).


If you can't afford to go on holiday at a certain time you aren't being 'punished' any more than I am being punished that I can't afford to buy a Rolls Royce.

Quote:

So either the schools Local Gov and State are the biggest hypocrites going or it needs changing.

I don't understand who is being hypocritical in this context?
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foxtrotzulu wrote:



Quote:

As you put it "child B is a bit thick and struggling so he can't go" yes that child could go if trying their best equally A* Johnnie who mucks about but hey beats Einstein's IQ by 20 would not get to go.

Surely the point is that child B is the one who can't afford to miss school.


Perhaps child B could be an excellent ski instructor or mountain guide but a poo-poo mathematician... As long as he learns to read and write enough to function in society as an adult, he doesn't need excellent school grades to do well. Why does everything have to be measured solely on scholarly performance and relevance to the curriculum? How about other aspects of growing up, and learning which provide exposure to, and relate to the real world and real opportunities?

We're already raising a generation of young people holding degrees in useless subjects just so it can be said that they hold degrees. If Child B isn't particularly academic but they have interests and desires that could provide for them outside of the traditional school framework, then yes, I think child B, who's doing the best they can AND attending school to the fulness of their ability could be let out for a few days to pursue something that's of interest, beit on a family trip or some other thing. Kids representing their schools in regional sporting events often get out to attend those, and there's little mention there of their level of achievement. How is it significantly different?

Quote:
Quote:

I agree for many they can go on holiday etc during school hols but there are a significant number who either financially or due to leave constraints can not, so why should they be punished? Bboth a well off and a poor family may work very hard do very rewarding jobs but hey who cares you can't go on holiday like the little sh*t down the road who's parent throws a sicky at work to get extra time off ( and yes I do know people who have done that to go on holiday).


If you can't afford to go on holiday at a certain time you aren't being 'punished' any more than I am being punished that I can't afford to buy a Rolls Royce.






A family holiday can mean, for some, one of the few times that the family unit can actually come together in it's entirety. For some doing shift work, or unusual hours, or having to work away, it can be the only real time that they get to spend with their children and family as a whole. I don't see how a Rolls Royce can provide that same level of cohesion to the family unit.
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feef,
Quote:

A family holiday can mean, for some, one of the few times that the family unit can actually come together in it's entirety. For some doing shift work, or unusual hours, or having to work away, it can be the only real time that they get to spend with their children and family as a whole. I don't see how a Rolls Royce can provide that same level of cohesion to the family unit.

You miss my point. I wasn't equating holidays with Rolls Royces I was merely pointing out that the concept of 'punishment' is not accurate or appropriate here.


Quote:

We're already raising a generation of young people holding degrees in useless subjects just so it can be said that they hold degrees.
This is a great example of a sensible policy gone adrift. The dreaded Tony Blair rightly saw that Britain cannot compete with China, Eastern Europe etc. as a low-skilled nation so it made perfect sense to try and get as many as possible to maximise their skills and qualifications. I think he rather envisaged a nation of scientists and engineers. the trouble is we ended up with a few million people with useless degrees in media studies, business studies, sports science, Tourism & forensic science ("there's been a decomposed body found at the 18th Hole") and so on.

As I've said before, I have no problem with some pupils missing the occasional day here and there for genuinely important and worthwhile events. Cheaper holidays, football matches, better snow, the warm-up day to the TdF (sorry Boris) do not count.
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foxtrotzulu wrote:

As I've said before, I have no problem with some pupils missing the occasional day here and there for genuinely important and worthwhile events. Cheaper holidays, football matches, better snow, the warm-up day to the TdF (sorry Boris) do not count.


Who defines what is important and worthwhile tho? Would spending a week with a parent you wouldn't normally see not be considered important? Important to the child and the family, yes, important to the school or government league tables, no... I maintain that an exemplary school attendance serves the schools and the beancounters more than it serves the individual child. By tarring all with the same legislative brush, I think it's doing more harm than good in both alienating some families and not necessarily solving the underlying problems. Certainly, school attendances have been shown to have gone up, but that'll be because those law abiding folk like us will have sucked it up and ensured they don't fall foul of the law. The truly persistent truants will probably still be sat in a bus shelter smoking fags.

The application of the law in this manner has parallels with what I see in the off-roading community. We're seeing byways and greenlanes, legal rights of ways being shut to motor vehicles because of 'illegal vehicles' being driven down them in inconsiderate manner, or ignoring closure notices at certain times of year. The legislators seem to miss the point that those who are breaking the law already are unlikely to suddenly stop because another law is made.
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Who defines what is important and worthwhile tho?
When they are meant to be in school then I think it's the school/DfE who defines it. Outside of school it's the parents.
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Would spending a week with a parent you wouldn't normally see not be considered important?
If the parent is in the armed forces and only comes home on leave very occasionally then I think that's a good case for 'exceptional circumstances'. If it's because of divorce, then 'no'.
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Important to the child and the family, yes, important to the school or government league tables, no
Don't forget it's the DfE setting the rules here and not the individual schools. So while one school might want to have better attendance than another it becomes slightly irrelevant when the DfE is issuing the same guidelines to all. Do i think that the Government get bragging rights at the G7 because attendance has improved? Not really.


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By tarring all with the same legislative brush, I think it's doing more harm than good in both alienating some families and not necessarily solving the underlying problems.
That's the trouble with legislation, it applies to all. You can't easily say that Johnnie can have a couple of days away to study Etruscan pottery but that Mary can't have a few days to go to a water park in Magaluf. By 'underlying problem' I suspect you mean persistent truants. The point is that the independent panel found that even low-level of absence is an issue and detrimental to children's education, especially in the early years. So, this IS the underlying problem as much as little Kevin who never turns up at all. 20 children missing out on 5% of their education is as big a problem, if not bigger, than one child missing out on 99%.



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The application of the law in this manner has parallels with what I see in the off-roading community. We're seeing byways and greenlanes, legal rights of ways being shut to motor vehicles because of 'illegal vehicles' being driven down them in inconsiderate manner, or ignoring closure notices at certain times of year. The legislators seem to miss the point that those who are breaking the law already are unlikely to suddenly stop because another law is made.
That's not a bad parallel in many ways. However, if load of green laners were to use the same byways, quite legally, it would still result in a fair amount of destruction. When I've stopped and spoken to some of them their attitude has always been to hide behind the law. They don't care that the track is saturated and that their wheels are carving it up and ruining it for everyone, they are within the law and within their 'rights'. Don't worry, I'm not about to launch into an anti-green laner rant here, most are pretty good, even if the locals would rather they weren't there at all. the point is that where people can't police themselves, and where others (land owners / headmasters) are unable to do so, then the law often has to step in. Not everyone will obey the law. Some will always pretend the child is sick / dash off before their registration can be taken but the law does what it can.

If the 10 days of 'special circumstances' had not had the ar$e torn out of it we wouldn't be in this slightly daft situation.
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