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Discretionary Leave of Absence Policies and their Interpretation

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by paulc38, Apr 15, 2015.

  1. Discretionary Leave of Absence:

    Would you allow a good teacher a day's unpaid leave of absence to attend a day at Wimbledon, s/he having unexpectedly won this opportunity in the annual public ballot for Wimbledon tickets? Under which circumstances would you (or you executive/governing body) refuse such a once in a lifetime opportunity for a valued colleague?

  2. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    Can of worms...
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I agree with newposter, you risk setting a precedent you may come to regret. The teacher knew when they applied that they weren't entitled to a day off school. Is your school near Wimbledon? If so the teacher could presumably get there after school and still see a lot of the day.

    Next year someone who has no interest in tennis might ask for time off to see the national championships for their passionate interest - tiddlywinks, sheep-dog handling, BMX, bog-snorkelling...... Where are you going to draw the line?
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    I once had a request for a teacher to return several days late from an Easter holiday, on the grounds that he wished to attend a Whirling Dervishes ceremony in Turkey, where he was planning to go on holiday.

    The claim was that this was a religion, he was a member of it, and I had given a day off to both a Jewish colleague and a Muslim one for religious practice earlier in the year.


    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  5. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    I wish I didn't but I agree with advice not to. It should be O.K. to allow some flexibility but, as has been pointed out, there could be future problems. Theo gives an interesting example.

    Also I do think it is being rather hyped up as an opportunity - good luck yes.
  6. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Hmmm. Not exactly a neutral OP.

    "good teacher", "once in a lifetime opportunity", "valued colleague"!

    So, would I allow a day's leave? No.

    Would I refuse? Yes.

    Teaching comes with a set of expectations linked to our responsibilities. We know that we cannot take holidays during the term time. That we cannot take days off when it suits us. That 'flexitime' is rarely an option. These expectations exist alongside those advantages from which we benefit, such as the 170 days in the year when we can do exactly what we wish.

    Maybe the OP would like to consider running his/her school's tennis activity, registering for LTA's Schools Tennis Membership and entering the ballot for tickets that way and then, hopefully, taking a party of pupils to Wimbledon. Works for a great many schools.
  7. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    I'm with Nomad. Moreover, I don't care how "good" or not so good a teacher is, discretionary leave is not meant to be for time off for a treat outing.

    As someone else said, teachers know they can't attend Wimbledon during week days. It's a cheek to ask for the time off, frankly.
  8. Quijote

    Quijote New commenter

    Whoops! I'm in a minority of one. I allowed a teacher a day to attend Wimbledon two years ago. She hadn't applied for it but won it in some sort of supermarket promotion. I asked her to be discreet (i.e. not to broadcast it to colleagues). She went and no-one else has mentioned it since.

    I'm intrigued by Theo's example. I do give non-Christians time off for religious observance. As ours is a Catholic school I think it's only fair: the school year has been carefully constructed to make sure I don't have to be in school on the holy days of my religion. However I think I might have given a very short dusty answer to the whirling dervish.
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  10. keepthespirit

    keepthespirit New commenter

    No, you are not the only one Quijote. I have done it : however, they were different times.
  11. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    A teacher recently asked me for an afternoon off school to collect her new pet dog!

    I said no.
  12. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    She's probably writing out her request for Adoption Leave, Digory!

    Best wishes


    Meet Theo on line on the TES JobSeekers Forum, where she answers jobseeking and careers queries regularly each week.
  13. Perhaps the line could be drawn through a policy of accepting limited (e.g. once a career!) unpaid leave for such events as long as there is no demonstrable detriment to pupils and their learning or any significant cost to the school? Otherwise what is the point of discretionary unpaid leave of absence?
  14. The teacher agrees it's not about entitlement. That is why she requested discretionary unpaid leave of absence. No where near Wimbledon by the way so whole day required.
  15. With respect, the teacher in question knew she wasn't entitled to day off. That is why she has asked for a discretionary unpaid day off at no expense to the school. Familiar HLTAs are there to take her class - post SATS bt the way. (Sorry - just throwing back at you the compelling counter views presented to me)
  16. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Funerals? Would it be the same if I won back stage passes to see Ed Sheeran, a once in a lifetime opportunity, so would like the day off to travel down because I live no where near London? Or I was travelling to France to watch the Tour de France?

    I'm sorry, I agree with the others. It opens a whole can of worms and leaves the head in a very difficult situation where some could argue discrimination if their request was refused while another member of staff had theirs granted.
  17. Thanks for the replies everyone. Just wanted to hear what the general consensus was.
  18. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Allowing people time off for religious observance is one thing - protected characteristic, Equality Act 2010 - but the reason given here is self indulgence. Would the teacher concerned exercise discretion herself?
  19. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    I did once spot a former Headteacher at Wimbledon on TV. She had been off sick at the time.......
  20. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Obviously watching tennis was the cure.

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