I am going to moan about schools and term time holidays

As from September our primary school will no longer be authorising term time holidays.  Now come November we are taking the boys out of school to go and a nearly three week trip of a lifetime to Orlando with my Brother, Sister in Law and niece.

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This holiday has been booked since just after my Mum died and we have been looking forward to the trip for a long time.  My Brother and family are self employed and that is why we are travelling at this particular time of the year and I am aware that it could have an impact on my seven and eight year olds school work, but…………

For the last two weeks they have not really done any significant learning at school, in fact for this week they have watched more DVD’s at school that they have at home in about a year.  I am not going to justify me taking them out of school by saying they will learn as much with me as at school, however, I will say that it should be my choice as a parent to make this decision.

We are sensible enough to make our own decision and I am disappointed that this is being taken away from me.  There has been a lot of noise made about the Lunch box issues this week, but no one has shouted about the fact that the law has changed and that from September Headteacher will not be able to grant time off for holidays.

Currently  headteachers are allowed 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.  Headteachers can also grant extended leave for more than ten school days in exceptional circumstances.  However, Amendments to the 2006 regulations remove references to family holiday and extended leave as well as the statutory threshold of ten school days come into force in September.  The details of the amendments can be found on the Department of Education website here.

Not only are the government taking this out of our hands, but also out of the hands of the school.    Yet another example of the government invading my home and my choices.

I wonder if this applies to private schools too? or maybe that would be a bit like a bear pooing in its own backyard.

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13 Responses

liveotherwise | 07.18.13

I’ve heard a lot about this on twitter today, but can’t find anything about it on gov.uk (which doesn’t actually mean all that much) – can you point me to the regulations?

Where a holiday has been booked for so long, there should be some discretion given. Generally though, even though you know my position on schools, I can understand why children should be in school if that’s what they are signed up to. If everyone just took children out whenever they felt like it, it would be incredibly difficult for teachers to plan and deliver a scheme of work.

Jen Walshaw | 07.18.13

liveotherwise » Hi Jax, the details are here http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/pupilsupport/behaviour/attendance/a00223868/regulations-amendments I totally understand that we can not take our children out willy nilly, but they are taking away the decidion to make the choice from headteachers totally.

Ali | 07.18.13

To be honest Jen, your holiday is booked the head may not be able to authorise it so it will be unauthorised absence. Sure you can live with that much easier than the head and every other head who will have a bad record of unauthorised absences spanning lots of people who do this because school holidays don’t work for them.

It another ridiculous rule that really won’t make a squat of difference, Though that abuse the system will carrying on doing it and those that are sensible like you and me will just have feel they are breaking some rules, which we are not really after all! x

Julie | 07.18.13

We have had a similar system up here for as long as my kids have been at school – and we just take them out (so far we have done it when taking them to South Africa to visit my parents and one half-day for the paralympics) and their absence is marked down as unauthorised. Our infant school head teacher tends to send back the official, ‘this is unauthorised etc’, reply but often writes a wee hand-written note at the bottom saying she hopes we have a great time. So I know she doesn’t mind but she can’t have that recorded officially. The middle school is more formal and they just send the standard reply.
I wouldn’t worry about it. You have good reasons, just go ahead and don’t let it spoil your time. As long as you only do it for good reason i don’t think you should feel bad about it juliex

Sally | 07.18.13

As far as I understand the rules, it’s always been the case that kids should only have an authorised absence in exceptional circumstances but the change from September is that the government is explicitly saying “a holiday doesn’t count” so where headteachers used to have discretion to say a holiday counted as exceptional, now they have to mark those absences as unauthorised and they MAY in turn report this to the local authority, who may issue a fine. Meh.

I can see why they’re being clearer on the rules. If a term is 10 weeks long then a child missing two weeks will be at a significant disadvantage and if the teacher has to help them catch up on their return, then that’s going to impact other children in the classroom. And most family holidays aren’t educational opportunities to be immersed in another culture or try new experiences – they’re trips to a beach resort with a swimming pool.

Having said that, my job involves travel, sometimes that happens during term-time and Flea has to travel with me. Usually, Flea will miss no more than 3 or 4 days at a time and mostly, the trips are educational – Venice, Florence, Paris, Jordan – but sometimes they’re not.

But if I feel there’s a benefit to the trip, then I would take her regardless. If it’s marked as unauthorised, does it ACTUALLY matter when your child is 5, or 8 or 10 years of age?

Personally I think all parents should be allowed to take their children out of school for holidays at their own choice (obviously not abusing the system) we used to do it as kids, and to honest despite the rules I think we will be doing it once the kids are at school too. There is no way wed be able to afford holidays within the school holidays and actually my partners work is generally busy then anyway. We always sued to do holiday books anyway so were still writing and drawing and we now have nice keepsakes. I think a lot of parents will just ignore this, and actually I think there will probably be a lot more people phoning in ‘sick’ because of it x

Gillian | 07.18.13

Same here. Our school has always had a policy of ten days authorised absence (although many other local schools have a zero tolerance approach to absence) and it always seemed to work fine. You wont be fined though since it was booked long before the changes take place which might be some comfort, but still. Yes, I wonder if the private schools are doing it too. hmm… x

The school may refuse permission and write it down as unauthorized but as far as you are concerned you authorized it and informed the school beforehand. Let them deal with their petty regulations and government directives and you enjoy your family experience of a lifetime. Don’t give it a second thought.

It is proven that children with below 95% attendance per year at school are likely to be behind in their learning and at a lower level to those with 95% or above. It will also be possible from september for parents to be prosecuted and have a criminal record if their children are absent from school without authorisation.

Emma | 07.18.13

Our school are honouring holidays already approved, I wish I’d had the foresight to book in for next year early :-)

Your Comments Our headmistress seemed to have one official rule and then an unofficial rule for some families she approved of. The term is too long anyway imo! And in Nov it does wonders for your health (and attendance) to get some sunshine. Don’t worry what the govt rules, just do what you need to do.
All the children who took termtime holidays in our school were the high achievers ironically…
At Secondary it gets worse, if that’s any comfort, so I would just be bold now while you can still get away with it…
And I agree over the DVDs. We just received a hefty dose of holiday homework to be done over six weeks, and I wanted to scream – why have they spend 2 weeks doing not much and then you want them to spend the actual holidays doing the work you should have been asking them to do at school..

Sammie Hodges | 07.18.13

We have EXACTLY the same problem as you! We are going to Orlando in November too! It will be Chester’s first year at School, I have had a little word with the headteacher, who is notoriously strict on Holidays and she has said as long as I show her the letter stating the date it was booked (well over a year ago) then she will be able to authorise 10 days of it.

I do not understand all this nonsense about holidays affecting Children, we went on at least one holiday a year in term time as children and it has never affected me. In fact it probably helped me as I was more clued up on different cultures and countries than others in my year!

[...] with school age children.  one blogger, Jen Walshaw, has blogged her thoughts about the government crack down here, making the point that the government seems to be creating more and more obstacles for families to [...]

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