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school term time holiday requests

(53 Posts)
DatDat Tue 21-Feb-12 19:14:07

My Grandson is disabled and attends a school for children with special needs. The school has a policy where they will only grant term time holiday requests if a pupil has 95% attendance. We recently put in a request for a term time holiday for my Grandson, however it was denied by the headteacher because he currently only has an attendance level of 78.5%. What really annoys me is that the 16.5% attendance that he is short of from the 95% required was mainly absences due to hospital inpatient/outpatient appointments that he has to attend because of his health issues and I think that it is wrong of the school to include these essential hospital appointments within their calculation for granting term time holiday requests. My Grandson was born without a functioning immune system and even after receiving a cord blood transplant his immunity remains poor, so it is in our best interest to take him away on holiday during the quieter weeks to limit the risk of infection to him, and obviously these quieter weeks tend to fall during school term time. I appealed to the childrens services department of my local council, however they predictably sided with the headteacher. The holiday is booked and payed for now so we will be taking our Grandson away with or without the blessing of the school, however was it really too much for the school to give their blessing for a short 1 week holiday, the only holiday he will be taking all year, personally I think it is red tape gone mad.

Any comments or views that you may have on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

jeni Tue 21-Feb-12 19:26:43

My opinion (for what it's worth) is that that is ridiculous! Particularly as he is immunodeficient. Have you tried getting a doctors note to support you?

bagitha Tue 21-Feb-12 19:36:20

My way of avoiding the school saying no to such things is not to ask. I simply inform them that DD will be absent "for family reasons". The thing is, the HT has to refuse because that's the law, or policy, or whatever the guvmnt calls it, so you can't win. But, in our case, visiting her grandma for her 80th birthday party half way down the country, and another get together of far flung family members was regarded as 'reasonable'. If you tell them you're taking him away at that time "for health reasons" I really don't see how they can object.

Greatnan Tue 21-Feb-12 19:38:39

I entirely agree - they are just being awkward and unsympathetic. I am sure a holiday would do him much more good than one week in school.

I gather the government are planning to bring in a law to impose large fines on parents who take children on holiday during term time. This takes no account of children whose parents work away, or are in the armed forces, etc.
My daughter is up against this in New Zealand - her son is getting married in August in England, but that is right in the middle of the NZ term. It is not worth their while paying £6,000 in fares for the five of them just for a week.

If a family on a tight budget has three children, it costs far more to take them on holiday in the height of the season. It could mean the difference between the children having a holiday or not.

mrshat Tue 21-Feb-12 19:50:30

As I recollect DatDat if your grandson was not in school because he had a medical/hospital appointment he should be as an 'authorised absence' which should NOT count against him. I would assume the 95% attendance was meant to allow for a 5% unauthorised absence (i.e. an unexplained absence or an unacceptable absence). I also understood that special schools were more understanding about their pupils' 'special needs' and they of course include medical issues. It might be worth arguing the case! Good luck!

goldengirl Tue 21-Feb-12 20:22:41

As an ex-teacher in a state school [many many moons ago] it was so frustrating to lose members of your class for holiday reasons. Then there's the catching up to do when they get back. Teachers can't take holidays out of term time and really aren't there enough days off for parents to take them at other times? These days they seem to be off school more than they're in it. OK I know it is more expensive then but that is part of having a child at school

As a parent I admit to taking them out of school a couple of times so that we could accompany my husband on his occasional jaunts across the Pond and they learned a lot from their experiences because it wasn't just a holiday

However for children with special needs there are different issues to be considered and they should be treated individually.

So I'm sort of sympathetic, but not totally.

Jacey Tue 21-Feb-12 20:24:03

DatDat ...agree with mrshat's comments ...any medical appointments should count as authorised absences long as you notify school prior to appointment.

Also agree with bagitha ...a request dure to family circumstances should also be granted as an authorised absence.

You need to play the game within the rules set ...yes the head can decline an absence for a holiday if it is deemed the child has already had their quota of absences in the last 12 months (not that academic year) just make sure all your grandson's absences fall in the authourised group and don't necessarily ask for a holiday absence ...use another name.

AND ...the school can't stop you from taking him out of school for a holiday ...just live with the fact that it will go down on his report as an unauthoriused absence! Which his family will not care about ...the school might though!! It could go against them during an Ofsted ...but that's the red tape for you.

Enjoy your family hoilday ...have lots of fun!!

Mishap Tue 21-Feb-12 20:26:37

Talk about Big Bro is watching you! Parents need to have some say in what they think is best for their children!

We took our 3 out of school for 2 weeks every year right up till GCSEs - this was because we could not afford to go abroad in the summer holidays, but could out of season. They mainly went to France and learned a lot about the culture and the language. They all finished up with degrees and one an MA - so it did not ruin their education.

There have to be times when parents can make a decision about these things - our choice was to get them abroad as and when we could; and we felt that they gained more from this than another couple of weeks at school.

I think that the school is being thoroughly unreasonable and encouraging dishonesty - it must be very tempting just to pretend he is ill next time you want to go away!

glassortwo Tue 21-Feb-12 20:27:07

My GS has had frequent visits to hospital/doctors and has received authorised absences for these.

Jacey Tue 21-Feb-12 20:36:16

Yes goldengirl as a ex-primary teacher I do know what you mean ...but always felt that family time and the emotional health and well-being of the child was more important

I always refused to set homework too ...which parents often asked for ...suggesting that the culture/history/nature they would enjoy was enough.

I especially think parents should not be penalised during these financially difficult times.

Greatnan Tue 21-Feb-12 20:40:26

I am a bit confused, goldengirl. You seem very opposed to other parents taking their chidren out of school, but you say you took your own out.
I am also an ex-teacher, and unless a pupil was preparing for an exam, I never found that a couple of weeks' work could not be made up. Sometimes the parents asked for work to take with them.
As you say, a holiday can be a great learning experience.

DatDat Tue 21-Feb-12 20:43:39

Although the hospital appointments my Grandson has to attend do go down on the school's records as authorised absences, they still deduct these absences from the 100% starting point when calculating whether or not his attendance level is at the 95% necessary for them to grant a term time holiday request. Now if this were a mainstream school where the majority of the pupils who attend are generally fit and healthy, then I would not have too much of a problem with this 95% policy, however we are talking about a school where many of the pupils (my Grandson included) have some serious, complex and chronic illnesses and conditions that do require frequent hospital visits in order to manage, so to expect them to achieve an attendance level of 95% when they are deducting all the absences for hospital visits from their calculations in relation to term time holiday requests is simply wrong in my book.

Greatnan Tue 21-Feb-12 20:49:26

DatDat - can you appeal to a higher authority, the school governors, perhaps? Or even the local press.

goldengirl Tue 21-Feb-12 20:51:30

I was giving two sides of the coin Greatnan.
I found it a pain in the proverbial as a teacher - but that was 40 odd years ago - but as a parent I wanted my children to have a special experience. I wasn't just taking them for a seaside holiday.
I gave up teaching before becoming a parent - couldn't stand being ruled by a bell grin

DatDat Tue 21-Feb-12 21:06:18

Greatnan: Yes, they said that I could appeal to the school governors if I was unhappy about the decision, but to be honest I'm just going to take him with or without the school's blessing.

Jacey Tue 21-Feb-12 21:09:37

The cynic would say that the school govns had set the policy ...and that the head was just carrying through on their decision confused

bagitha Tue 21-Feb-12 21:11:15

Good for you, DatDat smile. Schools are getting far too bossy these days and forgetting that parents only delegate part of their children's education to them.

JessM Tue 21-Feb-12 21:23:43

Yes well most govs do what the head asks them to do.
They are just trying to reduce their absence stats. It does not matter a damn to you if he takes time off as an unauthorised absence.
There are various legal sanctions they can use if parents persistently don't send kids to school. (fines, courts etc) But they never do this for holidays.
The only other sanction they can apply is to take the child off roll. They do this occasionally if parents take their kids off to India or something, for months.
They are not going to do this to him for a one off holiday.
Just ignore them.

Greatnan Tue 21-Feb-12 21:52:42

What a pity that schools in some parts of Lancashire are not more vigilant when girls of 14 and 15 go on 'holiday' to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

jeni Tue 21-Feb-12 21:57:22

Agreed. That's when they get 'married'!

Notsogrand Tue 21-Feb-12 22:40:03

Well said Greatnan.

crimson Tue 21-Feb-12 22:40:03

Maybe the structure of courses these days make it difficult for pupils to catch up with work if they take time off in term time? Amd there's a big difference between taking time off to go somewhere educational and having a couple of weeks in the sun. The parents will more than likely complain aif their child doesn't achieve the grades expected of them, and then it will be the teacher's fault [it always is the teachers fault...].

crimson Tue 21-Feb-12 22:41:54

....but must point out that I think DatDat's grandchild's school are being unreasonable, I hasten to add.

bagitha Wed 22-Feb-12 08:28:56

The real problem is a school system that is too target-based.

Zephrine Wed 22-Feb-12 08:45:24

We have had a similar experience to Datdat with my grandson's school. He has been severely brain damaged. Cannot talk, is incontinent, cannot walk, is totally deaf and has seizures. He has been given a mental age of 12 -15 months. He gets sent home from school at the first sign of poor health and has many hospital appointments and yet last year my daughter had a letter home from his school about poor attendance. As far as we could understand the school is expected to conform or "perform" to the same figures as normal schools.