I am sad to say that I have had to speak to several irate parents this week who took their children out of school during term time and were fined £60 per child. One headteacher writes in Tes.
Over the past few years, my local authority (LA) has not been on top of the fining game, and many parents have slipped through the net. But with LAs as well as schools feeling financial pressure, fines are now being issued on a far more consistent basis.
My issue is the time I have to spend calming parents down. The holiday-request letter clearly states that approval of any “exceptional circumstances”, allowing parents to holiday fine-free, is at the headteacher’s discretion. Parents therefore blame me for their fines.
Ideally, the letters should make it clear that headteachers will not sanction absences and that the school does not benefit from the fines.
This got me thinking: if I am giving my precious time to meet with parents to explain why a fine has been issued, why is my school not being reimbursed for that time financially? After all, we all know that finances are being squeezed in all schools.
Now, this is just an idea at the moment, but I am considering exercising my headteacher’s discretion by saying “yes” to all holiday requests, provided parents pay a contribution of £30 into the school accounts.
Now, as a parent myself, I know that holidays are vital breaks. Time to relax and bond. As a teacher, I am tied to my holidays. However, if I wasn’t and could holiday at any time, then the question would have to be asked: do I go on holiday on 16 July when I can get a family holiday for five people for £2,300, or do I go on 25 July and pay double?
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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