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Taking children out of school....

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@eng_ch, That's interesting about Switzerland. I have been trying to find out how other countries tackle the issue of term-time holidays but there isn't much information out there. I had always suspected that Nice Mr Gove wasn't completely out of step with what other countries do.
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@foxtrotzulu, Nice Mr Gove may not have been completely out of touch with what other countries do, but I do think he might have been a bit out of touch with what the UK does, given that "schooling" is not mandatory; parents are required to ensure their children get an education but are reasonably free to determine how that happens. Schooling may be mandatory here, but the responsibility is still devolved to local school boards and the cantons so there are no central dictats, which allows a degree of flexibility to react to local and individual circumstances that Nice Mr Gove seems to have been trying to take away in the UK
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I know that French schools in Serre Chevalier seem to be fairly relaxed about children being missing from school in the interseason. Many of the businesses close and take their annual leave in May (there's quite a few Bank Holidays then too), and take their kids with them of course.
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@eng_ch, I think that 'full-time education' is compulsory in the UK, it's not simply a question of getting an education. I'm not at all sure parents are 'reasonably free to determine how that happens'. Their options are extremely limited and always have been. What Gove was principally trying to do was update the guidelines to enforce the rules as they were originally intended.
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@foxtrotzulu, I did mangle it a bit. I was trying to say that teachers' own opinions may affect how they present absence to parents but that it is the LEA's Code of Conduct that actually determines what happens if you take your children out of school. Having said that the Head Teacher of our local Infant school, who we know quite well through the board of governors, has never expressed an opinion other than that education should be in the classroom and is vehemently opposed to anyone taking their children out of school.
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@henzerani, where as our primary school head is happy for parents to take their kids out on holiday in term time, so long as they have otherwise good attendance. He can't officially authorise it but he delivers that news while saying "enjoy your holiday". FFS we only live once. Let's get the balance right.
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Shimmy Alcott wrote:
@Lisa_BrentaSki, they can't authorise it...but it just goes down on the register as un-authorised.

They can't authorise it as holiday, but they can authorise it as an "approved sporting activity" - make their statistics looks better (which is all they care about really).
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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!
@Shimmy Alcott, as does the Head of our Junior School, where, fortunately, our daughter is now. I was illustrating a point which . . . I can't remember now.

@RobW, I have tried that in the past, but it hasn't really worked.

I'm happy enough to tell the truth: that I love skiing and I want to share that with my daughter but I can't afford to do that during school holidays. And that she seems, at the moment, to cope with some absence from school while I attempt to set an example about loving life and following dreams and getting off Minecraft and . . . other Dad stuff.
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RobW wrote:
They can't authorise it as holiday, but they can authorise it as an "approved sporting activity" - make their statistics looks better (which is all they care about really).
There is an official code that schools can used for approved sporting activity when recording their attendance statistics. I believe that the guidance regarding the code states that an approved sporting activity is a school organised sporting event which is supervised by a representative of the school, or participation in a regional, national or international sporting competition. Difficult to see how a headteacher could justify recording a term-time absence as an approved sporting event if it was a family holiday.

Headteachers will be challenged, internally by their governing body and externally by OFSTED, on their attendance figures. I'd guess that any school with an unusually high proportion of absences recorded under Code P, approved sporting events, would mean further examination of the reasons why it was out of line with other schools. Making their statistics look better is one thing; making them look unusual is another thing all together...

This seems a relevant news piece regarding the other side of the equation.
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Would there be a downside with regions staggering their school holidays, such that we're not all looking to book the same few weeks? In Scotland we at least have a couple of weeks holiday out of sync with England, so always look to use those weeks English schools are still in for holidays, e.g. for October 1/2 term we've had a reasonable price on a cottage in the Lakes for the last few years.
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@balernoStu, I think that's a good idea. There are limits to how widely spread the holidays could be of course. For example, it's not sensible to have "half-term" during Week 2 of a 12 week term. There is also the downside that some families might have their children schooled in different regions, so allowance would need to be made for that.

Be nice if teachers could take a week or two off during term time so that we could have cheaper holidays as well...
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@rob@rar, I think spreading over 3 or 4 weeks would ease the pressure quite a bit. Indeed it would not be ideal for families with schools in different regions, that's got to be tough already!

I like to think the industry would benefit, with more semi-peak weeks to keep snow sports related workers and businesses busy but avoiding the pressure of occasional mega busy weeks. Of course Europe already has a spread of holidays so maybe less of an impact in Alpine resorts. I've suggested this here before but IIRC a concern raised was that package prices could go to max for all those weeks.
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balernoStu wrote:
I've suggested this here before but IIRC a concern raised was that package prices could go to max for all those weeks.
I think supply and demand would continue to affect prices. There seems to be healthy competitive market for ski holidays, with a number of big TOs, lots of mid-range and small specialist operators and plenty of owner-renters all looking for business.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
I think package prices are already at max for every week. In other words, the TOs quite naturally and sensibly adjust their prices to achieve the maximum revenue and profit for every week.
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The French experience, with prices at top notch for the whole of the four weeks February/March winter holiday, does not suggest that staggering holidays would make for much cheaper packages. I agree with @rob@rar, the market is a highly competitive one so that should make for efficient pricing (doesn't mean it's always cheap, of course - the whole thing would collapse if they always had to provide a flight, transfer and half board for £350 a week).

It's a pain having two different LEAs to cope with. That stopped my teacher daughter and SiL having a ski holiday at Easter this year, as they teach in different LEAs and the holidays were different. We live right on a county border (I live in Hampshire but even with my weedy girl arm action could throw a cricket ball a good few yards, over the river, into West Sussex.
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Poster: A snowHead
rob@rar wrote:
RobW wrote:
They can't authorise it as holiday, but they can authorise it as an "approved sporting activity" - make their statistics looks better (which is all they care about really).
There is an official code that schools can used for approved sporting activity when recording their attendance statistics. I believe that the guidance regarding the code states that an approved sporting activity is a school organised sporting event which is supervised by a representative of the school, or participation in a regional, national or international sporting competition. Difficult to see how a headteacher could justify recording a term-time absence as an approved sporting event if it was a family holiday.

Headteachers will be challenged, internally by their governing body and externally by OFSTED, on their attendance figures. I'd guess that any school with an unusually high proportion of absences recorded under Code P, approved sporting events, would mean further examination of the reasons why it was out of line with other schools. Making their statistics look better is one thing; making them look unusual is another thing all together...

This seems a relevant news piece regarding the other side of the equation.


Ofsted check attendance rates and never, in my experience, letters from parents ( I've been through 7 Ofsteds in my career including 3 as school attendance lead)
Why would governors want to challenge a Head's decision on authorising an absence? -it will only make a school look better if attendance is better.

Let's say your child is a budding tennis star. They have ten days off a year to play in tennis tournaments. The school is very proud, puts photos in their newsletter and prospectus. They authorise it as approved educational activity as PE is in the National Curriculum.

There's a lot of badly informed stuff on here. If you ask your head to authorise a week long activity and stating it is for educational purposes (PE, Languages etc.) then they'd be daft not to approve it. It would take a very brave Ofsted inspector to challenge it and set a precedent. There are millions of days approved for off site educational activity every year.
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
Why would governors want to challenge a Head's decision on authorising an absence? -it will only make a school look better if attendance is better.
Because that is the job of governors, and possibly, just possibly, they would frown on schools abusing the rules? I'm not a governor any more, but when I was I'd would have be interested if the school had a noticeably high number of approved absences for sporting activity.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
Let's say your child is a budding tennis star. They have ten days off a year to play in tennis tournaments.
A Perfect example of the attendance rules being applied correctly. That's the way it should work.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
There's a lot of badly informed stuff on here. If you ask your head to authorise a week long activity and stating it is for educational purposes (PE, Languages etc.) then they'd be daft not to approve it.
I think they would be daft to approve it, especially if it set a precedent in their school which, quite understandably, many families would want to use for their family holiday.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
It would take a very brave Ofsted inspector to challenge it and set a precedent. There are millions of days approved for off site educational activity every year.
In my experience there are plenty of 'brave' OFSTED inspectors, although I guess they would just consider that they are doing their job, following the inspection framework as is required of them. Of those millions of days of off site educational activity, how many of them are for family holidays?
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
rob@rar wrote:
cameronphillips2000 wrote:
Why would governors want to challenge a Head's decision on authorising an absence? -it will only make a school look better if attendance is better.
Because that is the job of governors, and possibly, just possibly, they would frown on schools abusing the rules? I'm not a governor any more, but when I was I'd would have be interested if the school had a noticeably high number of approved absences for sporting activity.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
Let's say your child is a budding tennis star. They have ten days off a year to play in tennis tournaments.
A Perfect example of the attendance rules being applied correctly. That's the way it should work.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
There's a lot of badly informed stuff on here. If you ask your head to authorise a week long activity and stating it is for educational purposes (PE, Languages etc.) then they'd be daft not to approve it.
I think they would be daft to approve it, especially if it set a precedent in their school which, quite understandably, many families would want to use for their family holiday.

cameronphillips2000 wrote:
It would take a very brave Ofsted inspector to challenge it and set a precedent. There are millions of days approved for off site educational activity every year.
In my experience there are plenty of 'brave' OFSTED inspectors, although I guess they would just consider that they are doing their job, following the inspection framework as is required of them. Of those millions of days of off site educational activity, how many of them are for family holidays?


i'm a governor and, as a senior manager, have reported to governors - You get absence reported. You don't usually get number of days for approved educational activity or off site provision reported.

I think you are missing the point here. I am not saying approve holidays. I am saying skiing is not a holiday, it is a sporting, therefore, educational activity. Plenty of schools take students out skiing during term time and it goes on the register as educational visit. Trips to Benidorm should not be authorised, trips skiing or tennis camps or football matches should. It's really very simple. Parents just need to state that their child is partaking in an educational activity off site for the day/week.
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@cameronphillips2000, its some years ago now but the school one of my sons was at (briefly Very Happy rolling eyes ) had a no holiday approved code! It refused to allow a couple of days absence for a ski trip as approved sports absence . We had two other children at different schools and non of them had exactly the same holiday dates so it required some juggling to minimise absence all round. Two of the schools were fine about it and agreed it was a sports activity and that there were special circumstances due to school term dates differing. Ironically the one school which refused was a sports academy and was running its own ski trip that same week! rolling eyes Needless to say we took the trip anyway!
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CaravanSkier wrote:
@cameronphillips2000, its some years ago now but the school one of my sons was at (briefly Very Happy rolling eyes ) had a no holiday approved code! It refused to allow a couple of days absence for a ski trip as approved sports absence . We had two other children at different schools and non of them had exactly the same holiday dates so it required some juggling to minimise absence all round. Two of the schools were fine about it and agreed it was a sports activity and that there were special circumstances due to school term dates differing. Ironically the one school which refused was a sports academy and was running its own ski trip that same week! rolling eyes Needless to say we took the trip anyway!


It's completely down to the school. How you sell it to them may make a difference. I would not use the word holiday at all. If mine ever go in term time it will be a 'training camp'
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
... I am not saying approve holidays. I am saying skiing is not a holiday, it is a sporting, therefore, educational activity. Plenty of schools take students out skiing during term time and it goes on the register as educational visit. ...


I'm in favour of the education I paid for not being wasted by cheapskate parents. However...

Presumably if a school arranges it's own ski trips in school time, that would leave them zero grounds to object if parents did the same? Or did I miss something here?
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cameronphillips2000 wrote:
I think you are missing the point here. I am not saying approve holidays. I am saying skiing is not a holiday, it is a sporting, therefore, educational activity.
I'm not missing the point, just suggesting that the government doesn't agree with it. Gaming the system, either as a parent or as a headteacher, IMHO doesn't seem like a good idea. What happens to a school's attendance data if 60% of the families apply for a week or two absence for approved sporting activity each academic year? Where do you draw the line: skiing holiday, golfing holiday, surfing holiday, swimming holiday?
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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!
The sporting/educational thing is just convenient middle class semantics. Presumably a villa holiday in Tuscany would also qualify as you intend to go to Florence for a day. But what about a week in Marbella, swimming and donut riding are "sports"? If a kid is in race/freestyle training then fair enough but otherwise where do you draw the line? A dad taking kid out of school to travel to a midweek cup tie might technically be" sporting activity".
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pam w wrote:
The French experience, with prices at top notch for the whole of the four weeks February/March winter holiday, does not suggest that staggering holidays would make for much cheaper packages. I agree with @rob@rar, the market is a highly competitive one so that should make for efficient pricing (doesn't mean it's always cheap, of course - the whole thing would collapse if they always had to provide a flight, transfer and half board for £350 a week)...


However if the whole of France had the same 1/2 term date I imagine pressure on resorts for that week would be intense. I agree that a 3 or 4 week spread of school hols wouldn't be sold at low season prices but I would hope for somewhere in between. At present there's no way we can afford a 1/2 term package ski trip, but have gone at Christmas the last few years and had a few day trips up North during 1/2 term, so not all bad.
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@Dave of the Marmottes, I think I agree. For most of us, taking kids out of school for holidays, even if they are skiing, is a leisure activity. It is also educational in an informal way and probably helps broaden their minds and help them see the world from different points of view. But it is a holiday and I don't want to call it anything else. The Education Dept currently argues that family holidays are not as beneficial to children as being is school. I disagree with that. Our local LEA used to allow Head Teachers to authorise absence for holidays, presumably because they saw some benefit to children's education. I agreed with that. And at the moment the legal or social prohibitions aren't high enough to over ride my moral belief that a wide and varied education, quite like the one my parents gave me, is what I should be aiming to provide for my daughter.

@NickyJ, started the thread by asking how she should present the fact that she is taking her children out of school for a holiday. I guess there is the temptation to lie, especially if there is likely to be a fine and doubly especially if you are taking term time holidays because of cost. And getting it recorded as something else pleases my ideas of political subversion. But I think telling the truth is probably the bet route. It sets an example for your children. And, although I don't hold politicians in high regard when it comes to the truth, if schools go on recording holidays as unauthorised absence that does at least provide truthful data with which governments can make decisions.
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@henzerani, I know I'll sound like a stuck record to many followers of this thread, but I can't resist picking up on e a couple of things you say in the thread above.

I'm delighted that you agree with my view that a skiing holiday, is principally a leisure activity, even if it does have some educational merit as well.

The DfE doesn't argue that family holidays are not as beneficial as being in school. To put it simply the DfE view is that school time is for school and holiday time is for holidays. I.e. We don't expect you to come to school during the holidays but we do expect you to come to school during the term time. As a basic principle that seems pretty reasonable to me.

I wholeheartedly agree that, within certain guidelines, head teachers should be able to authorise absence. The trouble is that they did have some leeway but the great British public drove a coach and horses through it. What used to be up to 10 days absence for 'extraordinary circumstances' or whatever the phrasing was, became an entitlement to an extra 10 days holiday regardless of cicumstances. Heads then felt unable to refuse holiday leave leave during term time.

I don't think anyone disagrees that a wide and varied education is the ideal solution and holidays play a part in that. It's just that be should be..... during the holidays. I'm unsure what the best way of resolving this problem is, but hopefully the Gove changes will bring about a change in culture so that term time holidays go back to being the exception rather than the rule and then teachers might one day be able to authorise truly exceptional absence without these very rigid guidelines blocking some things that probably should be allowed.
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[quote="rob@rar"]
cameronphillips2000 wrote:
I think you are missing the point here. I am not saying approve holidays. I am saying skiing is not a holiday, it is a sporting, therefore, educational activity.
I'm not missing the point, just suggesting that the government doesn't agree with it. Gaming the system, either as a parent or as a headteacher, IMHO doesn't seem like a good idea. What happens to a school's attendance data if 60% of the families apply for a week or two absence for approved sporting activity each academic year? Where do you draw the line: skiing holiday, golfing holiday, surfing holiday, swimming holiday?[/quote

The only thing the government cares about is getting elected.

Attendance is the biggest factor in terms of progression in education. Schools are judged on their overall attendance and PA rate. The PA rate are the number of students with absence below 85%. These students are vulnerable and usually underachieve.

The under-achievers in our country's education system are the white working class. Many have attendance rates below 85% for many complex reasons.
The white middle classes generally do very very. They also happen to be the biggest proportion of skiers. My son and daughter have had one day off this year. They will have attended 378 of a possible 380 sessions. Throw in a ski holiday of ten sessions and that's 368 of 380. That's an attendance rate of almost 97% -way above the national average.

If anyone's really bored the guidance is here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/361008/Advice_on_school_attendance_sept_2014.pdf

It's basically up to the Head. If you can convince them to approve skiing as a sporting activity and you, as parents, as an approved supervisor, your child can have a skiing holiday with no absence recorded. This is not 'bending' any rules. Simply interpreting them in a sensible way.

I wouldn't take mine once thy're in Key Stage 4 as there's a chance of missing something crucial, but I don't see the issue with Year's 7-9.
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This thread does venture into many different areas, however I would just like to add that as a parent we each do what we consider is best for our children (no parent does anything with an intension to damage their children's future).

In addition education isn't a 'free' benefit from every tax payer (for those tax payers who happen to have children), it is an investment in tax payers of the future. Ultimately as parents you want sucessful children, and as taxpayers you want children well educated to support your future pension though paying high levels of tax.

Therefore ultimately we want the same thing.

However in my experience any future successful adult needs to be well rounded, pure academics will not cut in any/(many) walks of life.

Money is not the principle reason I ski with my children in term time, there are a number of factors.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
It's an ill thought out scheme which was designed to tackle truancy. Sadly the people who get caught out now are families who care enough to want to spend time affordable to them on a family holiday. If you take them out 3 days or less it'll be ok but anymore just factor the fine in your budget.
We have been fined and due to work commitments I am not prepared to forfit our family holiday. The sad thing is before this scheme we made considerable effort to ensure the kids caught up on any work missed in order to reduce any disruption but now we are not allowed to do this as the school would be seen to condone it. My kids are still in primary school and I resent the implication that I would do anything to harm their education and I think the 10 day rule that used to be in place allowed for this and it allowed the parents and schools to work together in the best possible way for each individual case. Life's short and family time is paramount and it's time that it's encouraged within sensible limitations, however I fear that it has now become a huge source of revenue which to my disgust doesn't even go to the school. It's time the government used their brains on this matter and that the policy was transparent to everybody throughout the country instead of being different in each district. Evil or Very Mad
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A few schools near us, when they go away on the school ski trip , use a few term days included in the time away , doesn't stop them .And I don't think they would fine the parwents who paid to send their children on what is classed as an educated trip
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summerseat wrote:
It's an ill thought out scheme which was designed to tackle truancy. Sadly the people who get caught out now are families who care enough to want to spend time affordable to them on a family holiday. If you take them out 3 days or less it'll be ok but anymore just factor the fine in your budget.
We have been fined and due to work commitments I am not prepared to forfit our family holiday. The sad thing is before this scheme we made considerable effort to ensure the kids caught up on any work missed in order to reduce any disruption but now we are not allowed to do this as the school would be seen to condone it. My kids are still in primary school and I resent the implication that I would do anything to harm their education and I think the 10 day rule that used to be in place allowed for this and it allowed the parents and schools to work together in the best possible way for each individual case. Life's short and family time is paramount and it's time that it's encouraged within sensible limitations, however I fear that it has now become a huge source of revenue which to my disgust doesn't even go to the school. It's time the government used their brains on this matter and that the policy was transparent to everybody throughout the country instead of being different in each district. Evil or Very Mad


Well said!
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summerseat wrote:
It's an ill thought out scheme which was designed to tackle truancy. Sadly the people who get caught out now are families who care enough to want to spend time affordable to them on a family holiday. If you take them out 3 days or less it'll be ok but anymore just factor the fine in your budget.
We have been fined and due to work commitments I am not prepared to forfit our family holiday. The sad thing is before this scheme we made considerable effort to ensure the kids caught up on any work missed in order to reduce any disruption but now we are not allowed to do this as the school would be seen to condone it. My kids are still in primary school and I resent the implication that I would do anything to harm their education and I think the 10 day rule that used to be in place allowed for this and it allowed the parents and schools to work together in the best possible way for each individual case. Life's short and family time is paramount and it's time that it's encouraged within sensible limitations, however I fear that it has now become a huge source of revenue which to my disgust doesn't even go to the school. It's time the government used their brains on this matter and that the policy was transparent to everybody throughout the country instead of being different in each district. Evil or Very Mad


I disagree with much of what you say above, but accept that's largely just a difference of opinion. However, one specific point I wanted to pick up on. I strongly suspect that the fines collected are nowhere close to the cost of issuing and collecting them. They are certainly not a 'huge source of revenue'. In addition it isn't the school that has the work or the cost of collecting the fines.
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There is always going to be difference of opinion on this subject. There is no need for it to be expensive to issue and collect a fine if the school did it and actually got the fines I think most people would just pay it. My point is that it was put in place to reduce truancy and that hasn't happened, yes attendance looks better but you can bet your bottom dollar sickness has risen ten fold so it's just manipulating figures and totally missing the point.
As a responsible parent who's kids attendance is very good (above 90percent) I resent being dictated to and made to feel that despite working our backsides off all year we can't take the kids out of school for a few days. I'm not an idiot and believe me if I thought they were struggling or it was detrimental to their education I wouldn't do it for a second but that as a parent should be my choice. If attendance is poor then yes it should be monitored but there are plenty of irresponsible parents who call in sick at the drop of a hat and who's kids attendance is poor and yet that just goes under the radar. I'm proud of the fact that I choose to give my kids some valuable family holidays.
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@summerseat, You might be interested to know that an attendance figure of 90% is classed as 'poor.' 90% attendance means that the child is missing approximately four weeks of schooling every year. That's a lot. To be fair, you did say your children were better than 90%. 'Satisfactory' is 95% or higher.
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If its a lot cheaper to pay fine and take them out of school , its simple....do it , they are your children and ultimately your choice ........
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@winterfunman, OK to apply the same principles to other rules we don't like in life ?
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Ultimately ? yes its your life , live it .

UK is to much of a nancy state
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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!
winterfunman wrote:
Ultimately ? yes its your life , live it .

UK is to much of a nancy state


That's because her father is PM.
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
foxtrotzulu wrote:
I think package prices are already at max for every week. In other words, the TOs quite naturally and sensibly adjust their prices to achieve the maximum revenue and profit for every week.


I'm not sure that is the case.

We don't increase "our" prices at Half Term. I say "our" prices as the airlines do, and this pushes up the sale price. In fact we aim to make the same profit per person each week of the year. Of course (hopefully) we make more during the busy periods but this is simply due to increased numbers. It seems to be a less risky idea to make a small amount of profit from lots of people than a large amount of profit from a few people.

I would imagine that many medium sized TO's have the same outlook on P&L.

At Half Term, the hotels cost us the same (Following a good deal of haggling at the end of this season), so do the lift passes, equipment, transfers, staff costs, etc. So the only reason the costs go up is the profiteering by the airlines.


Point of note. We have, for the past 15 years, mainly used British Airways for our Half Term flights. Will not be using them next season (Feb 16) as they came back with a group cost of over £450 per person. Whilst they explained it in the standard "as much as the market will stand" terms we feel this exploitative and cynical, and so we have booked a few hundred seats with Monarch for less than half of the BA quote.


EDIT - PS I have a meeting next week with the head of her school and on the phone they said that it should/may be possible for me to take her out of school for a week at the end of Jan as they can apply the "family circumstances" criteria due to me working abroad. Fingers crossed.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Quote:

UK is to much of a nancy state


Oh no, not more argument about muppet cakes.... Laughing
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