Fining dad for taking boy on term-time ski trip was the right decision, says Scunthorpe headteacher
A HEAD teacher has defended the decision to fine a father who took his son out of school for a skiing trip.
John Smythe, of Byfield Road, Scunthorpe, wrote a letter to Angela Briggs, head teacher of Melior Community Academy, in December, stating reasons why he was taking his son, Connor, out of school for a seven-day ski holiday in France in January.
But the school later sent him a letter with a £50 fine.
The steelworker said: "Unfortunately, I only have two weekends out of every five when I am not at work, so our free time spent together is very limited. I worked overtime in a hard and dirty job so I could take my son away on an adventure and reward him for doing so well at school.
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"Now I have been fined £50 and will have to work more overtime to pay it off. I am in despair and feel I have been wronged. Both Connor's mother and I take his and his sister's education seriously.
"This was a special time for both of us. I am very upset by the decision to fine me."
But the school remains confident that it took the correct approach.
Mrs Briggs said: "School policy is that the decision is down to the discretion of the head teacher. About 99.9 per cent of the requests to take children out of school during term time are not granted.
"If we are going to educate the children, then we need them in the school. Many families have holiday restrictions, and we look at each case on its individual merit. In this instance, the permission was not granted."
And she said granting permission would have carried its own risks.
"You have to be careful about not setting a precedent, and only in rare cases will we grant permission," she said.
"It is incredibly crucial that young people do not miss school because every day of education matters.
"The fining is not something that the school puts in place, but is decided by the Education Welfare Service.
"Parents should make any extenuating circumstances clear when making a request, but should know it is highly unusual for a head teacher to grant such permission.
"I think it would be nice if holiday companies looked at pricing more."
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