My kids have a far-from-perfect attendance record at school. There have been days when I could have dosed them up on Panadol and shoved them out the door, but I let them sit and sniffle on the couch instead. And then there was the time I got permission from their teachers to take them away during term time for a family event interstate (and we all ended up getting gastro and not leaving home anyway).
But I’ve never considered giving my kids the day off school on their birthday. To be honest, they’ve never asked me to.
Apparently, though, it’s a thing.
Sharyn O’Neill, the director-general of the WA Department of Education, knows all about it.
“I just had a parent saying to me the other day when I was in the shops, and it was their child’s birthday, and so they had their birthday off,” she told a parliamentary enquiry last month.
“That is not an unusual occurrence.
“It is the law… and the onus is actually on the parent or the caregiver to get the child to school.”
Not an unusual occurrence? I conducted an extensive survey (okay, I asked a bunch of my friends) and I found out that O’Neill is right.
“I gave my daughter the day off for her 16th so we could go get her Ls,” one friend told me, “and I have leave booked for the day of my stepson’s 16th for the same reason.”
Another friend explained that she got divorced when her children were young, and court orders said they had to see their father from 4-8pm on their birthday.