Parents just want cheap holidays. Don’t they?

The attendance issue is often characterised as being about selfish parents wanting cheap holidays. This is far from the truth.

The attendance issue is often characterised as being about selfish parents wanting cheap holidays. This is far from the truth. Here is just a sample of cases parents have reported recently.

There is no mechanism for Department for Education to see these decisions. Parents have no right of appeal against a Headteachers decision and the defences available under s444(1) of the Education Act if parents refuse to pay a fine are very limited – though they do include illness of the child.

  • Mother is cancer patient. Child in year 7. Received penalty notice for holiday related to timing of treatment.
  • Family business, which son intends to work in. Business trip to China, intended for school hols but travel agency mistake. Primary school authorised, secondary did not. Not an exam year. Penalty notice issued. School also not authorising illness, asking for sicknotes for every day absence.
  • Mother expecting penalty notice for lateness – autistic son, major achievement to get him dressed and into school every day. 
  • Youngest child child autistic and suffers from SPD and bone marrow issues. Partner also disabled. Benefit claimants. Tried for a week’s respite holiday in mobile home. Secondary school authorised for 12 year old. Primary school declined for 5 year old. Governors refused to question Head’s decision. Local authority refused to engage.
  • Primary school child requires regular therapy sessions for mental health issues, school refuses to authorise.
  • School threatening penalty notice for illness, even though has all the paperwork from hospital who are referring to CAMHS.
  • Family saved up for 5 years for weeks’ holiday in the UK – penalty notice issued. Child experiencing mental health issues and sever nosebleeds, being threatened over lateness. Lost baby very recently. 
  • Complex issues with autism, threats from school and lack of support from local authority. Child pushed out of education.
  • Secondary school child, has attempted suicide, victim of grooming and rape. Lack of support and understanding from school with threats of penalty notices.
  • Child in car-crash where saw mother lose baby. School lack of support and understanding threatening penalty notices. Attempts to move schools made difficult by local authority.
  • Child has congenital heart problems – has to miss school for medical appointments. Is discriminated against by individual and whole class awards for 100% attendance.
  • Child has school anxiety issues, school won’t authorise absence or send work home, despite letter from GP until have confirmation from CAMHS consultant. Has been referred but 6 month waiting list.
  • Mother had to take husband to hospital for operation leaving at 6am – no family or local support network able to take child to school. Has been told will be issued penalty notice for lateness.
  • Father took elder sibling to A&E for emergency appointment – has shown paperwork to school, still told will be issued with penalty for lateness for younger sibling who had to go along as no alternative school transport.
  • Family living in rural area, bus service unreliable, frequently up to 15 minutes late. School issued penalty notice for lateness, local authority gave assistance for mother to go to foodbank to be able to afford fine. Teachers helping to get kids to school short term, mother was told to walk the 45 minutes to school (and 45mins back) but has two other children under school age who would have to accompany them.
  • Primary school previously authorised absence for variety of Suzuki music lessons in village (parents are part of the lesson, need to be there), just as they allow absence from class for music teachers who come into the school. Enables lessons to happen without younger siblings present. New Head now not allowing external lessons – child was missing 15 minutes at end of school day once per week. Lessons within school still allowed. (Impact on local music teachers as well as pupils.) School previously rated outstanding.
  • School demanded proof of sickness despite it being the school who sent the child home ill
  • Mother found guilty under s444(1) after taken to court for non-payment of penalty notice issued for 8 days absence. 5 days of this was for illness – school sent child home day 1, was ill 2 and 3, was kept off in accordance with school policy on 48 hrs since last bout of D&V. Solicitor who attended hearing as McKenzie friend reported decision due to mother not being able to articulate in manner understandable by court.
  • Daughter suffers from migraines and asthma, moved school due to issues this caused. New school writing threatening letter after 2 days absence with sickness bug.
  • Penalty Notice for privately arranged school exchange in mother’s home country.
  • Child in year 3. Court summons for page boy at aunt’s wedding and grandmother’s funeral, both less than two days off, events several hundred miles from home. No previous absences including for sickness.
  • Continual requests for proof of medical appointments despite child being registered disabled.
  • Received letter saying children would not be authorised time off for grandmother’s funeral. No request had ever been made as children were not taken as felt too young, this merely school’s reaction to news of death.
  • Penalty Notice for holiday in memory of her 6 year old daughter’s death by the same primary school the child was attending when she died, and which has a memorial tree for her.
  • Asked for proof for dentist appointment, had attendance officer on doorstep while son off ill although had rung in every day. Fined for taking 2 children out early before summer hols for a wedding abroad, was authorised for her mother dying, but told school would normally ask for proof of a death.
  • Continually asked to prove medical appointments despite awareness of child’s heart condition and open-heart surgery.
  • Daughter suffers with severe anxiety depression and heavy periods. Penalty Notice issued despite telling the school they can have full access to her medical records. Educational welfare agreed the school applied too much pressure but didn’t get PN overturned. Still being asked for evidence of any appointments and showing them any medication that she is prescribed.
  • Mother in court for 92% attendance because has no proof of illness.
  • Refused permission for 8 year old to have 2.5 hours off to attend great-grandmothers funeral.
  • Teachers’ insufficient skills to encourage child with range of SEN issues into school when refused to get out of parents’ car – shouted and threatened saying attendance was vital, leaving child frightened and parents in tears. Took parent with SEN expertise to understand how to speak to child and coax into school.

One thought on “Parents just want cheap holidays. Don’t they?”

  1. I’m afraid all common sense is lacking these days ! I’ve had issues with secondary school regarding illness ! Situation was made 100% worse by pressure from school ! Since my granddaughter has been cured , the head of year has apologised to her for disbelieving her ! Like I said lack of common sense !!!! She is still having counselling for anxiety caused by school !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *