permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

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begolina
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by begolina » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:11 pm

This was the letter I sent to the Local Authority. Although at first they said they wouldn't ever go against the school, after receiving the letter, they gave the licence. And I know that it did work also for other LEAs.
Dear Ms XXX (LEA),

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me last XXXXX. As discuss with you, I believe XXXXX, Children Administrator for XXXXX, will apply for a licence for my daughter XXXX to partecipate in their production XXXXX from xxxx to xxxx, with rehearsal starting on xxxxx.

Attached is the letter from Mr XXXXX, Headteacher of XXXXX, stating that they don't allow time off school to pupils who ask to take part in Performing Arts. The decision is taken without considering if the child is in target (if not above) the national standards for accademic results or for number of absence, and without taking in consideration the educational benefits of the project, neither the professional opportunity which is recognised by one of the biggest industry in London and that will be useful later on when apply to University or developing any kind of carreer in the performing arts (not just acting but in the creative or administrative side of the industry).

The reason of my letter is that I fear that Mr XXXXX's letter can jeopardise the chance for my daughter to be part of what my husband and I believe is an amazing educational and professional opportunity.

To have a consistent approach to this matter is a well known problem. As stated by The National Network for Children in Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE), which your office is a member (IF YOUR LEA IS A MEMBER< PLEASE CHECK), they are "dedicated to the continual development and implementation of ‘good practice’ issues for children engaged in employment and taking part in public performances". Furthermore they "are also committed to what they believe as the right of children to access opportunity. We recognise that a consistent approach by all local authorities will inevitably lead to providing more, as well as, better outcomes and opportunities for children." They recognise "the difficulties faced by productions where there is a different response in various parts of the country, and can mean that one child may take part and another may not. This is unfair on productions, but more significantly it is unfair to the child." "The so called ‘postcode lottery’, must be extinguished", they say.

I would add that this would be less so if the licensing authorities would make use and enforce the powers the law grant to them, as per Children and Young Persons Act 1963 chapter 37 (4) : " ... a local authority shall not grant a licence for a child to [do anything] unless they are satisfied that he is fit to [do it], that proper provision has been made to secure his health and kind treatment and that, having regard to such provision (if any) as has been or will be made therefor, his education will not suffer; but if they are so satisfied, in the case of an application duly made for a licence under this section which they have power to grant, they shall not refuse to grant the licence."

The Statutory Instrument that followed the Act, The Children (Performances) Regulations 1968, states chapter 2 (1) "The licensing authority may make such inquiries as they consider necessary to enable them to be satisfied that they should grant a licence as required by section 37(4) of the Act, and in particular they may request a report from the head teacher in respect of the child."

It seems to me that the licensing authority, in order to gather all the necessary data to form its valuation on the request, can ask the school a report on the child in respect, presumably, to his/her school's results and number of absences and NOT the school's opinion on Performing Arts.

It seems to me that even in case the school could produce poor results and attendance for the pupil (which is absolutely not the case of XXXX), still the Local Authority have discretionary judgment on the case and decides (if the request satisfies the conditions imposed by the Act in relation to the welfare and the education of the child) that it is indeed an opportunity for the child not to be missed and licence must be granted.

In fact, the relevance of the independent judgement of the Local Authority finds confirmation in chapter 39 (6) where it says "Where a local authority refuse an application for a licence under section 37 of this Act or revoke or, otherwise than on the application of the holder, vary such a licence they shall state their grounds for doing so in writing to the applicant or, as the case may be, the holder of the licence; and the applicant or holder may appeal to a magistrates’ court". The right to appeal is against the Local Authority's decision not the school's letter.

I believe the Legislator gave the licensing authority to the Local Education Authority and not to the schools to avoid that different "opinions" could create disparity among the children.

In Faith
By the way, I wouldn't use the term "Exceptional reason" but "opportunity" because the law it is not there for exceptional reasons, but to grant an opportunity to the child.

Once the licence is awarded the school HAS TO authorised the absence by law.
Last edited by begolina on Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

jules1066
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by jules1066 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:37 pm

Thank you to Sophiesocks for the information quoted. I've just found the relevant DOE document also online. It's definitely a grey area as it clearly states if the dates are known the head should grant permission, it's where the dates are not known it's at their discretion. More importantly the document issued by the DOE in Nov 2013 is clearly trying to address the absence issue due to other factors (holidays included). But it specifically leaves the clauses relating to child performances unchanged!! So all this 'spin' by DDs head who quoted "policies being tightened by government" as a reason to refuse to give permission is a load of rubbish! My fear is the head will still hide behind the argument that an exceptional circumstance - which a day's performance falls under (code c) - is still at the discretion of the head.even though it contradicts the role of the LEA who issue the licence. OMG this is so complicated.

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Flosmom
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by Flosmom » Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:42 pm

Thanks, begolina - I knew someone had done something awesome. And I am soooooooo chuffed that I remembered it was you. I'm not so old after all :lol:

Deb x

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by jules1066 » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:01 pm

Wow Begolina! This letter is fantastic- thank you so much. I'm beginning to believe the law is there to give children unique opportunities within a safe environment! And that it has not been scoped to empower Heads to simply deny a child a unique opportunity because "they don't like the idea". Somewhat a vicious cycle though as the LEA claim they need the permission from the head, and the head is hiding behind government and school policies. Is there a clause that states this cannot be unreasonably withheld? Think I have enough ammo to start drafting some letters and will place a call to the LEA first thing.

begolina
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by begolina » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:05 pm

Thanks to you Deb and Jules. I am so proud of my letter that every time I read it I feel like to take a bow :lol: :lol: :lol:

jules1066, it is not the parent but the company that asks for the licence and the company when fill the form does say the requested time. If this changes the company asks LEA a new revised licence. The parents can support the company's request and help out with some admin, infact my letter is not asking for the licence but does support strongly the request that LEA knows is coming (with a gentle reminder of the consequences if the licence is not granted). This letter is to the local Authority NOT the school.

P.S. In theory parents shouldn't even deal with the school, funny enough they do it to speed up the process only (occasionally) to find a brick wall. In this case, back to square one and ignore the school.
Last edited by begolina on Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:27 pm, edited 5 times in total.

TalyaB
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by TalyaB » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:10 pm

I knew it was you, Begolina (applause). I've copied and saved the letter this time. It would be nice if none of us needed to fight in this way, but while we do, it's a brilliant tool.

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missmoneypenny
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by missmoneypenny » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:12 pm

Oh Jules that is a terrible tale!! I am so impressed that you pulled her from the school, as that is what the head deserved! We have always had a bit of a struggle with ds's primary head, but has been OK on the whole - but I absolutely cannot understand why they can't see the valuable experience that a child would get from a wonderful opportunity like that! Well done and yes, I would be complaining too x

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by Gatesheadangel » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:34 pm

The Head of the school i work at supports performing and sporting opportunities without question. Her reward is for some of the parents to do outrageous things which i can't discuss publicly, or happily tell everyone they don't care their kids are falling behind because they have their future filled with riches. And then ofsted arrives and puts the boot in because those kids help bring down the average achievement. Luckily there are other parents who understand the rights & responsibilites of both sides which helps justify her enthusiasm to learn from all experiences. If you do have a Head who supports your performing child, please remember you should in turn support the Head. But in this striving for outstanding schools i do wonder how many of these enlightened Heads will be around in a few years.

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missmoneypenny
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by missmoneypenny » Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:59 pm

Very good point and I agree wholeheartedly that these wonderful heads should be supported. We changed our choice of secondary school for ds recently as we found the one we had 'chosen' was much too obsessed with their 'outstanding' Ofsted rating - at almost any cost it seemed. Instead we opted for the school that is 'good' and coming up but much more focussed on the child as an individual - not so shackled by results and as they welcome children of differing needs and abilities the results are skewed anyway. Their attitude towards kids learning experiences is fantastic, and when I saw it in action we knew immediately it was where we wanted out boy to be. Ds is pretty smart and will do well anywhere - but felt it much better to be somewhere that has a good attitude and would allow him to continue his performing too!

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by poohstix » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:21 pm

I feel for you, such a shame yet another head teacher not supporting performing kids. It all seems to be about the attendance levels for the school rather than the amazing opportunities the children have. It is such a lottery as to whether a school will support a child and is very disheartening when they have gone through the auditions/recalls and finally confirmed to then get a no from the school. I feel very fortunate that both our primary and new secondary school have been brilliant so far, well done to you for making your decision to change schools and I hope your DD will get more opportunities in the future x

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by eleanorrigby66 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 9:25 am

I find it flabbergasting that one person can make such a huge decision for a child they've probably never even spoken to, on a subject that is of such high importance to that little girl/boy. Amazing letter begolina =D> - I too have copied and saved... this thread has put my nerves on edge!!

I had a meeting with a school head recently (not at my DD's school - it was completely unrelated to her), and the head and I somehow got onto the subject of performing arts, and the head said "Oh we're very big on performing arts here." and then with SO much pride, "one of our girls is auditioning for Les Mis in the West End!". She was glowing with happiness about it, and I found that so touching. All teachers should feel pride in their students if they're making any kind of achievement in any field. It's really not a teachers place to say which field is worthy and which is not!

begolina
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by begolina » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:10 am

Thanks eleanorrigby66.
As you say
It's really not a teachers place to say which field is worthy and which is not!
In fact by law it is not. Let's start to use the law and let's start to ignore arrogant headteachers that think they have life and death powers over the children and to support the ones that try to give the children an all around education (in arts, sports, humanities, science, etc) that complements the books and give them more skills for later on in life.
Last edited by begolina on Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by Fruitcake » Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:29 am

This is such a sad story, but good for you for pulling your DD......exactly what I would have done in the circumstances.

When my DS was at Primary School he had loads of time (licensed) off for stage roles, filming etc, and his Head was fully supportive. In fact, he actually said to me "He will learn much more experiencing all these things than he will sitting in a classroom!". How refreshing. I realise now how lucky we were! All I had to do was drop a letter in to reception giving dates for required absence, and the necessary letter of approval would be sent home that same day.

As for missing actual classroom hours........we pulled DS from school towards the end of Year 7 and he didn't go back until the beginning of Year 9. I can honestly say he did not suffer in the slightest and was not behind in any way in any subject! I know this is not Primary School, but if you actually work out how much actual 'learning' is achieved on average per day in any classroom you would be shocked! One day's absence would have no impact whatsoever on a child's education......only on the school's attendance statistics!

Good for you for voting with your feet! xx
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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by ruby95 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:45 am

I am so sad that the government is making state schools do this! I just left 6th form last year and for the whole time I was at school (state schools all my life) all my schools were so supportive. Even at secondary school, not only did the school allow students to take time off (even during GCSE and A levels years) but they actively invited casting directors in. We had auditions for a whole number of TV and feature film opportunities (including Game of Thrones) all in the school hall. I feel for anyone who's head doesn't allow their child time off. I know I would have been devastated if I had had to turn down a role because of my school!

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Re: permission refused. is head mistress being unreasonable?

Post by islandofsodor » Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:08 pm

If anyone happens to live in Cheshire the Locsl Authority have produced a handy leaflet which can be downloaded from their website which is a Guide to Headteachers on granting permission for time off.
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