PARENTS

Can I Fine My Son's School?

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Pencils in glass on table

I'm sitting at my desk, wondering who I should make my invoice out to. Is it the school, or the head teacher? Or do I send it directly to the teacher who's going on strike?

Either way, it's a cool £60 I presume I'll be receiving from them at some point in the not-too-distant future. £120, if I decide to invoice my three-year-old son's nursery as well. After all, schools are more than happy to hand out fines themselves: an increase of 25 percent on last year, with over 50,000 penalty notices issued. Surely, then, I can fine them for going on strike?

We are contemplating taking our six-year-old son out of school for a day or two later this year, so we can go on a well-deserved holiday as a family; after all, we've not had a proper holiday n for a couple of years, primarily because - as we all know - taking a break during the school holidays means forking out far more than you otherwise would.

I'm not quite sure of the exact process involved in getting permission from my son's school to take him out for a couple of days, but I can only presume it involves bowing on bended knee, lying prostrate at the feet of the headteacher whilst a lone hand sticks out, brandishing flowers and exotic gifts. And, only when the last tear has been squeezed out of my eyes, and I'm hyperventilating from all the begging, will I be allowed two days with my son to go on holiday.

But of course, when the shoe is on the other foot, it's a much easier fit.

My wife receives an email just one week before the teachers are going on strike to inform us of what's going to happen. No consultation, no begging, no apology, no flowers; just a faceless message telling us that this is what's happening, sort yourselves out.

Fortunately, my wife works in the evenings, so we don't have to fork out for childcare - which, of course, now outstrips mortgage payments as the highest outgoing for many families. It also means I don't have to take any time off work, which eats into my annual holiday allowance, which I'd much rather spend on holiday, preferably not during school breaks, and so on, and so on.

For many families, though, the short notice of a strike will cause all kinds of logistical and financial problems, time and money being spent when both are rare commodities these days.

We're meant to understand, of course; I don't dispute that teachers work very hard for a salary that doesn't reflect their importance. I struggle, though, with managing to find any shred of sympathy for them.

I've had nominal salary increases for the past five years, so negligible that they are barely noticed after tax and National Insurance is stripped away, but you don't see me going on strike. And so, with many teachers going on random strikes just to make a point - and inconveniencing hundreds of families in the process - I find it difficult to muster some support for their cause.

I'm sure they have my child's best interests at heart, even if it's not at all obvious. They must care about my son's education, otherwise they wouldn't want to fine me for taking him out of school, right?

In going on strike, my son's teachers are effectively playing truant, which is why I reckon I'm owed a bit of cash. Perhaps whilst my son is home we can head into town and decide how we're going to spend it.

What do you think about the teachers' strike? Are you supportive or fed up?

NUT Says Teachers Strike in England and Wale Is Supported

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