This is a debate that constantly comes up at various catch up’s. I’m sure you have the same discussions. Our stance is that school is important and missing days for travel is a grey area. We have missed school days for travel and we will continue to do IF the purpose is unavoidable. Last year we missed a week for a wedding in Perth. A couple of days at the beginning of the year, each year is always missed to allow my children to see my parents over the long weekend. Whatever our decision, each parent will make their own choice.
I do think that missing school is not then the responsibility of the teachers to catch the children up. I do think an open and honest conversation is required with the teacher to ensure any missed work can be made up or at least completed in part on your trip.
Here’s my shortlist of how to make a decision;
Is missing school allowed?
In NSW the justified reasons for absenteeism is
- Being sick or having an infectious disease
- Having an unavoidable medical appointment
- Being required to attend a recognised religious holiday
- Exceptional or family circumstances (for example a funeral)
The Department of Education and Communities offer a guide for parents. In relation to travel the following is their stance.
Families are encouraged to travel during school holidays. If travel during school term is necessary, discuss this with your child’s school principal. An Application for Extended Leave may need to be completed. Absences relating to travel will be marked as leave on the roll and therefore contribute to your child’s total absences for the year.
In some circumstances students may be eligible to enrol in distance education for travel periods over 50 school days. This should be discussed with your child’s school principal.
A thought to leave you with. If a student misses just 8 days per term, but the end of primary school they have missed an entire year of school!
My nieces school actually has a stance that the children’s place at the school will no longer be available if they miss school for holidays. Ouch!
How is your child doing in school?
You probably think that if your child is adapting and doing well then you don’t have an issue. Read further, simply doing well may not be the only parameters to decision making.
How does your child feel about missing school?
Mine hates every minute of it and reminds me constantly of what he missed out on when he returns. You don’t want them missing the due date of the project they’ve been working on all term. Keep communication open with the teacher to ensure you’re not missing anything important. In the instance where the travel time cannot be changed at least you have the opportunity to discuss with your child and make suggestions to correcting what they’ve missed.
Many people think being young doesn’t really matter. Keep talking with the teacher. If your school does different sounds for reading each week and you miss four of them, that could make a big gap in your child’s understanding.
What do you need to do to ensure minimal disruption;
- Give as much notice you can. This not only helps to avoid missing major events at school but allows the school time to provide you with any necessary paperwork/ applications.
- Meet with the teacher. Give them dates and commit to how long you will be absent. The teacher needs time to prepare work for you while you are away.
- Keep the absentee days to the minimum possible.
- Time the trip later in a school year rather than at the beginning when friendship groups are being formed and relationships with teachers.
- Ensure the trip has some educational value not just sitting by a pool for a week.
- Don’t make it a regular habit.
Remember travel deals are possible in school holidays of you are organised. Look out for airline sales, they may not have multiples offerings for school holidays but there will be a few, so be smart.
Research links school attendance with academic performance. In NSW public schools at least are cracking down on absenteeism as a result of holidays.
The NSW Department of Education’s new attendance policy says most family trips outside school holidays will now count as an “unjustified” absence on a student’s permanent record. smh.com.au 01.03.16
All that said and done, considering absent days from school and travelling during school term is certainly not a cut and dry debate. Each parent will make up their own mind.