A year ago, I was telling everyone that my daughter DEFINITELY wouldn’t do panto this year. We love panto, but she’d be in Year 7 at a new school and she needed time to settle. As the auditions take place in mid-September, auditioning would be a bit of a gamble as it was such early days and we wouldn’t know if her friendships would be strong enough to survive her missing school for panto.
I reckon I’d changed my mind by about last March though.
But I’ve basically spent a year worrying.
I didn’t ask the school if she could audition and if they minded her taking time off for panto. I didn’t ask if they were OK with her doing it for several years.
She just auditioned and I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Taking time off school for panto is perfectly legal and above board. The theatre applies to the education authority for a performance licence for each child taking part and lets the school know when the child will be off. The licence my daughter gets is no different from the licence the kids in West End shows or even films get.
BUT the school could say no.
Had a school ever said no? Would my daughter’s school say no?
When we went back to the theatre a few days after the audition to complete the paperwork, I had to double check. Would they be informing the school of ALL dates?
I kept expecting the call to say the school had refused.
But I didn’t like to contact the school myself, because that’s not how the process works.
A few days before rehearsals started, a letter came for my daughter, with a sticker from the theatre on the back. This was it. The letter that said she couldn’t do it.
No, it was a letter saying they were looking forward to seeing her for rehearsals on Monday.
A couple of days later, there was a phone call from the theatre. This was it, the phone call that said she couldn’t do it.
No, it was a phone call saying they would need picking up from the theatre, rather than the rehearsal venue, on the first day.
You may wonder why I was worrying so much when it’s all perfectly legal and above board? When my daughter first did panto, two years ago, she was friends with a girl a year older. This girl didn’t do panto the following year, because she was in Year 7. Her twin sister wanted to do it too, but her mum said no, because her school had said they could only do it once.
The twin sister’s school is my daughter’s school.
So was I taking a massive gamble by letting my daughter do it in Year 7? Would that mean she couldn’t do it in Year 8 and Year 9? Should we have just waited and done it in Year 8, rather than potentially cause problems with her settling in in Year 7? (As it happens, she’s had no problems settling in at all.)
And then, just over a week before opening night, my daughter got an email from a teacher at the school. It had been sent to seven girls, who were all taking part in shows over Christmas. The school was very proud of them and wanted to celebrate it, by taking a photo of them all to share on Facebook.
I was gobsmacked! I’d basically spent a year worrying for nothing. The school didn’t object at all! Far from it.
I now suspect that this mum had been lying to her daughters about the school and panto. And I’ve taken those words as gospel and they’ve been bothering me for all this time.
Finally, I can relax. I know that my daughter’s panto isn’t jeopardy and the school doesn’t think badly of her for doing it.
Oh no they don’t!