School absence fine after family holiday

SUS-140411-095358001
SUS-140411-095358001

Parents were puzzled after one of their children’s schools approved a holiday to see sick elderly relatives in The Philippines – but the other did not.

Ken Wilkins and his wife Helen said the unauthorised absence of one of their children has resulted in a £240 fine for the pair.

The parents contacted the two schools to ask for permission to allow their children to take two weeks off to see their grandparents in July – just before the end of the school year.

The reason for the visit was one of the grandparents were ill and Mr Wilkins said the family wanted to get out and see them as quickly as possible.

One school, St Richard’s Catholic College allowed Year 9 pupil Paulenne Wilkins to take two weeks off school for the trip.

But St Thomas A Becket School would not authorise the absence for her brother Bryston, who is in Year 5.

“I feel quite strongly about the reasons why they would not authorise it,” said Mr Wilkins.

“They are refusing to give me an answer. The fine is not the issue as it is worth it but I do not get what they class as exceptional or unexceptional. My in-laws are 92 and 87 and not in the best of health.

“It is not allowing the in-laws to see their grandchildren.

“We did not think it would be an issue.”

When The Herald asked why Bryston’s absence was not authorised, a spokeswoman for St the school said, “The Department for Education has amended the regulations and guidance in relation to absences in term-time.

“From September 1 2013 the Department for Education will only allow a head teacher to grant a leave of absence if there are exceptional circumstances.

“In determining whether or not an absence in such circumstances can be authorised, it is for the headteacher to determine the number of days a child can be away from school if the leave is granted.

“The circumstances were not deemed to be exceptional in this case.”