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Tasmanian parents looking to holiday with their families during the school term could soon be facing a big fine.

ABC reports, changes to the state’s education act in Tasmania, which came into effect last year, were designed to raise education standards and encourage children to attend school as much as possible.

The laws mean school principals are no longer allowed to personally excuse a child from school.

Previously, principals were able to use their discretion to allow absences for “any reasonable cause”, which was defined as one that they deemed to be “in the best educational interests of the student”.

Overseas holidays during school terms were often allowed under this provision, but now students can only be excused under “a new limited set of circumstances”, which are essentially sickness or incapacity.

The changes have left parents worried they could face penalties or legal battles if they decide to take their child travelling during the school term.

The new rules caused confusion amongst parents, with some contacting the department for clarification on who can authorise absences, and whether holidays during school terms will be allowed in special circumstances.

In an email responding to a parent’s enquiry, the department said more information about the changes would be provided “very shortly” through newsletters and fact sheets.

The changes stipulate that unless exempted, a parent must ensure their child attends school, is home-schooled or takes part in an individual education program.

Section 16 of the Act sets out penalties for unexplained absences as:
Fine not exceeding 15 penalty units and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine not exceeding 2 penalty units for each day during which the offence continues.
(2) If a court finds a parent guilty of an offence under subsection (1), the court, instead of or in addition to imposing a fine, may make a community service order within the meaning of the Sentencing Act 1997.

A penalty unit is set at $159.

A spokeswoman for the department told the ABC the act recognised certain circumstances make school absences unavoidable, but missing school for any reason has a negative impact on students’ learning.

“A child who misses a day a week will, on average, have missed a year of schooling by Grade 10,” she said.

“To get the most benefit from schooling, the Department of Education strongly encourages families and carers to plan family holidays, and other avoidable absences, in the three months when a child is not required to attend school.”

Do you plan holidays during the school term? How would you respond to this ruling?

Share your comments below

  • I have to agree that this is a bit extreme.

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  • I live in Tasmania and my daughter has recently had a couple of days off due to family visiting us. Nothing has been mentioned to me by the school and her teachers have seemed perfectly fine with it. She is only in Prep though so maybe this is why…

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  • We always plan holidays in the school holidays, we could not afford to go overseas anyway.

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  • Many people cannot afford to take a vacation during school holidays. Flights are more expensive during that time. If parents are penalized for this, it seems that overseas holidays are only intended for the rich people. Is that fair?

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  • Some people don’t get to choose their holiday times etc, ie my dad was a fireman & when I was at school his holidays were always during school terms. We always got the time off, but did have to take some school work on holidays that the teachers provided us with, and we had to spend an hour a day doing this work, as long as this happens, I don’t see a problem. The education department should not have a say in this, it should be ultimately up to the parents as long as they have a discussion with the teacher and principal of the school prior to the holiday etc.

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  • whilst educators are employed during school terms, many parents and carers are not able to get annual leave that coincides with the school holiday breaks.

    In addition, schools average 12+ weeks on breaks through out the year, whilst full time (both) working couples get max 8 annual leave weeks per year. Single parents with 100% full time care working full time get 4 weeks annual a year. All part-time get equivalent.

    Parents use up their sick leave to deal with sick children, and then dip into annual leave for sick leave, or pupil free days (over and above the annual school term breaks) to suit the school system. Then what ever is left for the parents/caregivers remains for annual leave, which again brings added stresses for families when they have already dipped into their allocations.

    However, life education is an eye opening experience for children and a bonding time for families.

    Education departments do not pay for the annual leave holidays that some parents are lucky enough to take. A teacher has so much bureaucratic paperwork that generally many do not teach 5 days a week, due to planning and other issues. Teachers love to teach, yet, are given way too much paperwork in the process.

    As a parent, if the only trip i could afford, or maybe the event i wanted to take the children too is outside of school holidays, so be it. Whilst primary school is very important in foundations, so is life learning. Whilst on Holidays, kids generally go to museums and art/craft galleries, go for walks exploring their location and reading historical monuments. They immerse themselves in the culture, people and learning when visiting a location, and more often than not, they will experience new foods and cooking styles. This is to name a minimal selection of what many kids on holidays experience. What this does for them is bring those texts books to life, so when the go back to the class room it all begins to make sense. Often making them more productive in their learning.

    Once kids start high school it is a totally different story, as these are important for the opportunities that their high school results provide them with, as the kids progress into the adult world.

    At present we have the commonwealth games – if a family can afford to go and take their children what a wonderful experience on all levels they would experience. For many it will be a once in a lifetime experience. However, such events do not always align with school holidays, so a trip during school term is all that one is left with.

    My last school, i needed to take my children to a place (for personal reasons) and I had to await their approval, to be told no sorry. Too bad, i went anyway.

    My next school, i took the children to see their place of birth

    I would rather pay a fine, than be dictated to by a bunch of stalwarts – there is a difference in skipping school because a child or family cannot be bothered to attend, as opposed to experiencing learning in a different vantage point.

    Also, if every employer could give every employee time off at the same time in school holidays, the economy would suffer, and people would not get to enjoy a holiday, as the impact of staff shortages would create further chaos.

    Seriously these people need a round of flexibility

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  • they have school holidays for the purpose of doing whatever you like ie planning a holiday lol. Getting a decent and complete education is very important and you have to set a good example for the kids and make the effort in teaching them that education matters

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  • There would be special circumstances under which a child may miss one day a week would be treatment (often intense therapy) for a medical condition. My Dad worked in a workshop that had a lot of staff with school age children. To a certain extent amongst worked it that each Dad got one school holiday of leave per year or 1 1/2 years. Last time we went away during a school term for a special occasion we got the teacher to supply some work for each child. The Naplan Work Book was very useful.

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  • Guess there will be exceptions for exceptional circumstances and provided you home school your children you won’t get the fine.
    But having a day off a week is just not on – think the clamp down is more for this style of missing school.

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  • Yes school is important but there are times when something happens and you can not take time off with your family at school holiday times. We have always asked for extra work the children can use. It never hurt my siblings and me as children as we moved around a lot. We even missed a few months of school one year due to where we lived.

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  • How insane! Kids can learn so much traveling. It compliments what they learn at school.

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  • Well, there is some disagreement on this one! :-)
    But I think that some of you are talking about very particular situations (pilots, farmers, special family events abroad or in another state). In those cases I expect that some exceptions can and will be made. Like I know that for example in places like The Netherlands, where kids HAVE to go to school (it’s illegal not to send them to school, and Police officers are placed in airports to check out that children don’t depart) if your family works in the Horeca business (food service business) they are allowed to go on holidays during school time.
    But I think that here we are talking more about normal people, who wants to save money and that’s why they go on holiday during school time. Well, I’d love to save money too! But education is important. Continuity is important. Respect for a teacher’s work is important. So that’s why we go on holiday just during school holidays.

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  • I think this is a bit extreme! – and really if your going to enforce this why not make it an australia wide rule – not just state by state (again no uniformity with the education department across australia!)

    We pulled our girls out of school for two weeks to attend a family members wedding – as it was in QLD and we live in the ACT we thought it best to make a holiday out of it as we were spending the money to go there anyway.

    I will be watching this play out (being an ex tasmanian) to see what happens – I am sure my Tassie friends won’t like this news

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  • We traveled 5 years ago to Europe to see our parents and for our kids their grandparents and other family members. We hope to travel in 2018 again, as my parents will be 60 years married. It will be 6 years ago then since saw them. The winter holiday is only 2 weeks. To travel to Europe for only 2 weeks with the six of us will be very pricey, we hope to take the kids one week before the holiday and one week after the holiday out of school. This ruling would concern me. Yes school is important, but there are more important things then school in my opinion. To see our family once in a while is very important.

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  • What a load of BS!! I already have a holiday planned and my kids will miss the start of school next year. Not everyone can get holidays during school holidays. I better start saving to pay all the fines I could get in the future as I have no intention of missing great life experience for us as a family because some idiot in an office says we have to.

    Reply

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