Holiday during school term time – where do you stand?

A recent High Court ruling seemed to have cleared things up a little when they reversed the decision to fine a father for taking his daughter on a term-time holiday because no evidence had been produced to prove that his daughter had failed to attend school "regularly".

But since then the local council, backed by the Department for Education (DoE), has been told they can now apply to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal.

So, what’s the law today?

In England, Section 444 of the Education Act states that “if a child of compulsory school age who is a registered pupil at a school fails to attend regularly at the school; his parent is guilty of an offence.”

Regular attendance is not explicitly defined in the Education Act. However based on the words ordinary meaning and various court adjudications, “regular attendance” means that a “a pupil is required to attend school for every day that the school is open” apart from authorised absences.

According to the Department for Education, authorised absence can be when "they’re too ill to go in" or "you’ve got advance permission from the school”.

School fines

The school and local councils have got legal powers to enforce school attendance.

“Your local council can give you a fine of £60, which rises to £120 if you don’t pay within 21 days. You may be prosecuted if you don’t pay the fine after 28 days.”

In the academic year 2014-15, a total of 151,125 fines were issued to parents, for a total value of £5.6 million.

Why do parents risk it?

The main cause for complaint is the increased cost of going of away during school holidays, when prices are often hiked. Many parents simply decide to take their children out of school, and view the fine as part of their holiday costs.

But government argues that "every extra day of school missed can affect a pupil's chance of gaining good GCSEs, which has a lasting effect on their life chances".

What is it like elsewhere in the UK?

The rules are slightly different in other parts of the UK. In Wales, “the Education […] Regulations 2010 state that head teachers have a discretionary power to authorise leave for a family holiday during term time where parents seek permission”.

In Scotland, “schools will not normally give a family permission to take pupils out of school for holidays during term-time.” Without a reasonable explanation for the child’s absence, the education authority does not send a £60 fine but can issue an “attendance order” which gives the parent a duty to ensure their child’s good attendance. “The Education (Scotland) Act 1980 states that if a parent has not complied with an Attendance Order, an application may be made to the Sheriff Court for prosecution […]. If convicted, a parent may be fined (not exceeding […] £1000), imprisoned for up to one month, or both fined and imprisoned.”

In Northern Ireland, the rules are again different. Failing to make sure your child attends school regularly can result in parents getting referred to Education Welfare Officer (EWO). “The initial response to a referral of a pupil by a school to EWS is a home visit. This provides the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) with an opportunity to assess whether the absence is condoned by parents and if they are in a position to ensure regular attendance. […] Parent Only Prosecutions are used as a last resort where parents fail to engage with the service and continue to ignore their child’s educational and welfare needs. […] In the Magistrates Court the maximum fine that can be imposed is £1,000 in respect of each child who is missing school”.

If you want to find out more on the subject, one of many useful links is here.

DISCLAIMER:

This information is not the view of Computershare, if you have any queries on this matter please contact your local education authority or visit https://www.gov.uk/school-attendance-absence

Win Your Child's Height in Books Facebook competition winner!

Our Facebook competition “Win Your Child’s Height in Books” is now over. The competition was a huge success, with a staggering 1695 entries.

The correct answers can be found below:

 

       Quote: You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.

       Answer: Charlotte's Web by EB White

 

       Quote: You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.

       Answer: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

 

       Quote: A person’s a person, no matter how small.

       Answer: Horton Hears a Who by Dr Seuss

 

       Quote: Courage, dear heart.

       Answer: Voyage of the Dawn Trader, C S Lewis

 

       Quote: If you want to live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

       Answer: Pooh's Little Instruction Book by AA Milne and Joan Powers

 

       Quote: It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.

       Answer: The Witches by Roald Dahl

 

       Quote: To live would be an awfully big adventure.

       Answer: This one was so tough that even we got it wrong! Well done to those of you who noticed that this quote was from the 1991 film Hook, and not from Peter Pan by J M Barrie

 

       Quote: When someone is crying, of course, the noble thing to do is to comfort them. But if someone is trying to hide their tears, it may also be noble to pretend you do not notice them.

       Answer: Horseradish by Lemony Snicket

 

       Quote: Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more. Believing in yourself.

       Answer: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

The lucky winner is 4 year-old Grace, pictured below with 104cm worth of books, her mum and our very own relationship manager Nathan.

We would also like to give a special thanks to Waterstones in Bury for helping us picking a suitable selection of books.

Enjoy the read Grace!

Win Your Child’s Height in Books - Get those guesses in!

Our Win Your Child’s Height in Books competition still has a week left to run, so there’s no excuse for you not to enter.

By now, you will surely have noticed the competition posts on our Facebook page. Brightly coloured and covered in text, the posts are like books in many ways – though not nearly so valuable. Each post includes a quote taken from a children’s book, and this is where your knowledge of children’s literature (or how to use Google) will come in handy.

All you have to do to enter is to identify the quote, and write the title of the book it comes from in the comments of that picture. Be sure to include the hashtag #CVSquotes with your answer. That’s it - you’ve entered!

And, if you’re really stuck, the picture in the background is there to offer a hint – be warned though, they’re pretty cryptic!

Cool. Anything else I need to know?

The prize for the competition is a pile of books. The size of the pile depends on how tall your child is. So, if your little one is 3ft 1in, the pile of books will be 3ft 1. If they’re 4ft 9in, the pile will be - you’ve guessed it - 4ft 9. If your child is 100ft tall, there's a chance they may be a horse chestnut tree. While we've nothing against horse chestnut trees entering the competition, the maximum height of books we can give away is 5ft 9in.

To go to our Facebook page and get your entries in, click here.

To read the terms and conditions of the competition, click here.

Good luck!

Win Your Child’s Height in Books is back!

Here at Computershare Voucher Services, we’re all about child literacy. Nothing makes us happier than the thought of a little one getting inspired by a new book. That’s why we launched the Win Your Child’s Height in Books competition.

 

 

Now in its fifth year, the competition gives you the chance to win a big pile of books for your child. The size of the pile depends on how tall your child is. So, if your little one is 2ft 7in, the pile of books will be 2ft 7. If they’re 4ft 2in, the pile will be 4ft 2 as well. BUT if your child is 11ft 9in, the pile of books will only be 5ft 9 (as that’s the maximum height of books the competition allows). You might also want to check that your child is actually a child, and not a lamppost.

Sounds great! How do I enter?

Entering the competition is simple. Starting at 1 pm, 04 February 2016, and ending on World Book Day (03 March 2016), we’ll be making a series of posts on our Facebook wall. These posts will be easy to spot, as each will contain a brightly coloured picture with a book quote written on it, expertly put together by our graphic designer, Steve.

All you have to do to enter is to identify the quote, and write the title of the book it comes from in the comments of that picture. Be sure to include the hashtag #CVSquotes with your answer. It really is that easy.

And, if you’re really stuck, the picture in the background is there to offer a hint – be warned though, they’re pretty cryptic!

To go to our Facebook page and get guessing, click here.

To read the terms and conditions of the competition, click here.

Good luck!

Computershare named in Top 30 Employers for Working Families

We’ve sponsored the Employers for Working Families Benchmark and Award since 2011. It’s something very important to us, given that providing childcare vouchers to help families with their childcare costs is one of our most popular salary sacrifice schemes, and we strongly believe in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. So we felt that it was about time we benchmarked ourselves against other companies, and we’re delighted to have been awarded a place in the Top 30 Employers for Working Families.

How does it work?

Each year the charity Working Families asks employers to complete a benchmark survey, showing what measures they have implemented to support family-friendly work practices.

All companies who complete the benchmark receive a detailed report from Working Families, highlighting the areas where they are ahead of, and where they are behind, other companies. In this way, employers can understand and celebrate what works well, as well as assess what can be improved. The participating employers who are doing the most to support working families gain a place on the Top Employers for Working Families list.

How do we support working families?

There are a number of ways in which we support employees with families including, but not limited to, the following:

-       Generous maternity and paternity leave pay

-       Easily accessible policies and information packs

-       Flexible working

-       Employee Assistance Programme

-       Networking groups

-       Career breaks

-       Buddy Parent Scheme

-       Childcare Vouchers

Why do we do this?

We are committed to providing a positive work environment for all our employees, and supporting their family life is just one element of this. We recognise that to attract and retain the most talented people, we need to give them a really happy and rewarding experience, helping them to achieve their professional goals and promoting their general wellbeing. As our MD, Julian Foster, commented, “The best employees have rounded lives, and the best employers do not force their staff to compromise their commitment to their families. Flexible working creates happier and healthier workforces that are hardworking, committed and loyal, as well as improving engagement and increasing productivity.

What’s next for us?

We will continue to develop our family-friendly working practices as a result of the insights gained from this year’s survey, and we look forward to building on our progress so far.

A big thank you to Working Families and congratulations to all the other employers who made the list.