It's funny. Although the entire population of the world has not been directly surveyed on this matter, there's a more than pretty good chance that everyone, from those who prowl the halls of power to those who have no power in society - including students, have been late at least a few times.
True, when workers are late, their pay may be docked and, heavens forbid a doctor should be late to surgery... but is a student being late really so inexcusable?
After all, when a worker is late, s/he costs their employer money and... well, we can all imagine what might happen if a surgeon gets to the operating theatre late. Lives hang in the balance, there.
So, yes: lateness has real-world consequences, but what hangs in the balance if a student is late? No one is likely to die and you're not costing anyone anything if you turn up a few minutes after the bell rings.
Granted, turning up late shows a lack of respect for your teachers and classmates - and even for yourself. Can you not discipline yourself to get to class on time? And then, there's the small matter of training...
School routines train you for your future as a professional. You're expected to show up to class on time every day so that you will be well-conditioned to show up on time when you join the workforce.
But you're still a kid, so maybe those in authority could cut you some slack?
Let your Superprof arm you with 10 ways to disarm teachers who would target you for wrathful punishment over being late.
Daylight saving time gives students a one-day free pass to lateness, but only in autumn.
As though confined to just one sweet day a year, forgetting to put the clocks back is a timeless excuse that’s bulletproof to detention. We're willing to wager there’s not a person you know who hasn’t been through the frenzied panic of realising this error, the superior breed of teachers included.
Relax, hit the snooze button – you’ve got an hour.
Unfortunately, as more people rely on their phone's apps to wake them up, this excuse is becoming less viable. Smartphones spring forward and fall back on their own so, if you want to make this a viable excuse for you, you will have to insist you use a low-tech alarm.
Historical footnote: chronic class latecomers lost a real gem of an excuse when wind-up alarm clocks fell out of favour because, if you forgot to attend to it before drifting off, it stopped running in the middle of the night. Ditto if it fell off of your bureau or nightstand. How could you hear it ring, muffled as it was by the clothes on the floor?
Digital models, those you plug in and leave set, slightly diminished the likelihood of lateness due to faulty alarms but the DST excuse was still believable. Unfortunately, even those are now considered an anachronism.
With more people using electronic device apps to wake them up, the best excuse you can hope to get away with is that you let your phone's battery die... and even then, that story might not wash.
What teenager would neglect to keep their electronic devices charged?
The Random Act of Kindness
You were on your way to school with plenty of time to get there. Suddenly, you spied... a grandmother crossing the street? A cat in a tree? A runaway pram? A dreadful traffic accident and you stopped to give CPR?
If you use that last excuse, be sure to have drying blood on your person. Otherwise, it won't be that believable, even if you claim to have washed up.
How could anyone be angry at someone who’s made themselves late due to an impromptu act of kindness? Taking the homeless for a slap-up meal, rescuing a puppy from a swollen stream, helping an old lady down from a tree, witnessing a brazen crime and being forced to provide a witness statement at the police station...
The choice is yours and it is only limited by your imagination.
Just don’t use this card too often or your teacher is liable to say that you can perform charitable acts after school.
The Blinky Mole
If you routinely wear glasses, the ‘accidental misplacing’ - or even breaking of your spectacles can lead to a series of consequences bound to make even the best of us late.
“I’m sorry I’m late sir/ma'am, I couldn’t find my glasses and, after stumbling around the house, looking for my uniform, put on my sister’s clothes. And then, I got on the wrong bus, which took me to the wrong school...”
A fair excuse in any book. Just don’t let it happen for real, eh?
Fun fact: In China, South Korea and other East Asian countries, it's quite fashionable to wear glasses frames with no lenses. Presumably, people do that because it makes them look smarter.
Plenty of foreign ESOL teachers in those countries have been fooled by students turning up to class wearing spectacles most of the time who suddenly appear without them. Quite often, they ask: "Did you get contact lenses?" only to discover that the frame wearers never needed vision correction, to begin with.
If you wanted to make a go of this excuse in your classes, you might invest in a pair of frames to wear to school, that you can conveniently leave at home when you fail to wake up on time, thus making your lost/broken eyeglasses story totally believable.
The Wardrobe Malfunction
Closely related to the 'missing glasses' excuse is the malfunctioning wardrobe. If you can't see what you're putting on, how will you know what you're putting on?
However, this excuse covers much more ground and is much more versatile.
Excuses like "I had my mind on my exams and totally forgot to change out of my pyjama pants!" and "I was halfway to school when somebody on a bike made a grab at me, totally ripping the sleeve off my uniform" are plausible; they cleverly explain why you had to return home for a wardrobe change.
Further wardrobe-related excuses: you forgot your trainers at home and it's gym day, you left your PE kit hanging on the line - can't participate if you don't dress out, right?
Getting halfway to school and realising you’re still in your PJs is certainly one way to make yourself late. Tell them you had to go back for your tie, P.E kit, swimming hat, underpants. Thinking about it, any piece of school accessory will do.
Note: don't use the wardrobe malfunction and broken spectacles excuses at the same time; you'll undercut your storehouse of likely stories, possibly leaving your short of tales toward the end of the year.
The Trouble with Tech
In the early days of GPS, it was not uncommon for a driver's device to direct them down roads that didn't exist. One German driver made international news by blindly following his GPS's direction... straight into a pond! He couldn't believe his beautiful BMW was now submerged.
We’ve all heard stories like this - remember the iPhone 5’s massively rubbish ‘map app’? Unfortunately for excuse seekers around the world, global positioning satellites have gotten so much more accurate that one can hardly blame them for lateness due to misdirection anymore.
We said 'hardly'. There is still a way to pin your lateness on dastardly directional devices.
You might say that your phone's traffic app did not indicate your route to school would be completely blocked, meaning you had to find another way to get to school even though you were halfway to campus. If need be, you can spice the story up by cooking up a fictitious accident - but not one so big that it would be likely to make the evening news.
“Why are you late, then?” “Please Sir, I set out for school using the RAC mapping system and ended up completely turned around…”
This story would work particularly well if you ride a bike or take a bus; less so if you walk to school.
The 1.21 Gigawatt
Ok, so it’s never happened before but finding a gap in the space/time continuum is bound to, sooner or later, and why not to you?
Upon arriving an hour late on Monday morning, politely explain to the teacher that you were getting a lift with your Uncle Doc in his new DeLorean. When the speed hit 88mph you experienced temporal displacement and vanished into the American mid-west sometime in the early 1900s.
Suggested background research: Back to the Future 1, 2, 3. Oh, and wear a cowboy hat to class; preferably a Stetson.
Seeing as DeLoreans are pretty hard to come by these days, a viable alternative to the temporal displacement story would be chrono-impairment, a la Time Traveller's Wife.
In that story, written by Audrey Niffenegger, the protagonist suffers from a rare genetic mutation that causes him to sporadically vanish from his own time and reappear, completely nude, either in the past or future. Usually, his time travels happen in great moments of stress. Some of these leaps may last for days while others endure for only a few moments.
Claiming chrono-impairment as your reason for tardiness may excuse you if you're late on exam days or other momentous scholastic occasions but you should use this excuse only sparingly, especially if you've never vanished from class, leaving your clothes and shoes behind.
Besides, if your teacher is familiar with Ms Niffenegger's work, s/he might not believe you at all... but might give you props for reading the story. Note: watching the film doesn't count; s/he won't praise you for that.
The Woeful Weather
The great British weather is the natural go-to excuse when anything goes wrong in this country. Train companies, airlines and politicians have all been known to point to the skies when they drop the ball; you could do the same.
You may, for instance, claim that one of your wellies slipped off as you were dashing across the street. If you have both wellies on, you might say that they filled up with water during this heavy downpour and you had to stop to empty them.
Alternatively, you may also aver that you stepped into a deep puddle, filling only one boot. You can add credibility to that tale by limping slightly, as though you'd sustained an injury as your shoe filled with cold, cold rain.
If the weather is particularly warm, as it has been in recent years, you may state that you had to rest in the shade as you felt a heatstroke coming on. Don't use that excuse when you perspire, though, because one symptom of heat sickness is the lack of sweat. However, slurring your speech and staggering around a bit would work in your favour.
Weather (pun intended) you got lost in the fog, blown away by gale-force winds or buried in 5 feet of snow; burnt to a crisp or severely dehydrated, it’s all fair game.
Naturally, be sure to check the actual weather forecast before concocting your excuse. You wouldn't want to claim frostbite when it's 30 degrees out.
The Day Fail
Take a deep breath because this one takes guts. If carried off correctly, this excuse can render any waiting teacher speechless or potentially bent double in laughter.
So you turn up late for school - very late. A narked-looking Head of Year is the first to feel your collar as you try to sneak your way in. Now, rubbing your eyes and in your sleepiest voice, say “I’m sorry, I thought it was Saturday”.
This excuse works best on Mondays and Fridays; especially Fridays. It would be best to not use Sunday as an excuse unless you know your Head does not care about attending church. If s/he does, s/he might become gravely offended that you overslept when you were supposed to be in Church and punish you even more severely.
This excuse really does work but, like the best of them, probably only once per semester.
This one is so good it will not only buy you the odd hour you're late to school but entire days, if you play it just right.
Suffering a sprained wrist, an injured arm or a twisted ankle is never a pleasant experience; fortunately, you only need to look like you're in agony for this excuse to work. A quick trip to your local supermarket or chemist's can help create all the hallmarks of a serious injury without the pain of broken bones.
Stock up on plasters, bandages and slings and get creative. You might also consider a bottle of Betadine wash, that sinister, gold-brown solution every A&E uses to wash out wounds.
That will work for being late once in a while - unless you want a reputation as the most accident-prone student the school has ever known. If you would prefer a more long-term plan for excuses, invest in a splint or brace of some sort: an ankle brace, a wrist splint... maybe even a neck brace.
Here is where the excuse-generating gets more complex...
Stay away from school for a few days (don't let anyone catch you in your truancy!) and return wearing your brace or splint. You will, of course, be forgiven for not attending and you'll earn a heap of sympathy, too.
Playing the sympathy card is a sure-fire way to get you off Friday morning’s double maths…
Now, for the most delicious part: your brace/splint can make return engagements, as needed. It's a medical fact that a sprained joint is susceptible to re-injury so, as long as you don't go overboard with it, you may find your instances of lateness excused simply by wearing your brace.
The Brown Nose
Arrived late for class and fearing the inevitable wrath? Then do your homework beforehand - not literally, of course.
Find out your teacher’s weakness. Turn up with their favourite chocolate bar, magazine or tobacco brand. You’ll get it in the neck from your mates but nothing cools a the blood of a teacher on the rampage like an unexpected treat.
Conversely, you might keep an essay, poem or short story that you wrote handy and say that you were up at all hours working on it. Your teacher might find such work more flattering than any store-bought gift.
And there it is, kids – our top ten excuses for being late to school. Don’t be too shy to use the comment box and chip in with your suggestions, you might save a fellow bed-dweller from a world of pain today.
We'll say nothing about the irony of an organisation dedicated to promoting education and responsibility publishing an article inciting students to be irresponsible and avoid education. We hope you'll see this exercise as a lighthearted stab at the tyranny of standardised education.
On the other hand, let’s face it: telling the truth when you turn up late for school is never going to wash with tetchy teachers.
90% of us are late because, well, our beds are just too warm and comfy but when you rock up wearing your blazer inside out, your tie on backwards and sporting an interesting barnet you’re going to need an arsenal of excuses that might just save your bacon from lunchtime detention.
With these reasons for being late for school, go forth and be excused.