The Oslo school commissioner has eased the city’s stringent rules around student absenteeism after a flood of complaints from parents. Commissioner Anniken Hauglie acknowledged the rules had been interpreted too strictly by principals, and were being changed to clear up any misinterpretations.
The rules stipulated that no student would be granted leave in the lead up to and during exam and assessment periods, for family celebrations, or for training sessions, reported newspaper Aftenposten. Leave was allowed for family deaths and funerals, and for participation in national and international competitions. Parents were angry there was no discretion to withdraw their children for special events, and the number of complaints increased from 42 in 2012 to 234 in 2013.
Former school commissioner Torger Ødegaard sent out a letter last autumn, saying schools could make a discretionary, individual assessment to grant students leave for certain activities, including sports, cultural and family events. That contradicted the legislation which remained in place on the municipality’s website, making it difficult for principals to make decisions.
“We’re changing the rules in line with the clarification that was sent out in autumn, so that there will be no doubt about what’s applicable,” Hauglie told Aftenposten. “We want to dispel any misunderstandings.” While she said the rules had been applied too strictly, it did not mean the council was going back to the drawing board. “It’s not that we’re pulling back the regulations. You can still only give up to 10 days off and it’s not a given that you will get leave for holidays and training camps.”