Shropshire school refuses boy leave for mum's wedding

Clive Primary School The head teacher of the school, Mary Lucas, said parents are welcome to talk to her about any issues

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A nine-year-old boy has been refused leave from school to attend his mother's wedding.

Claire Whitelegg, who is getting married in Cornwall on Tuesday, asked Clive School in Shropshire if her son could be absent for three days.

She believed her marriage fulfilled the criteria of "exceptional circumstances" necessary to legitimately take children out of class in term time.

The school said it received the request seven days before the absence dates.

'Couldn't wait'

Ms Whitelegg said: "My partner and I both work full time for the police and we do shift work.

Rules of school absence

  • Parents can put in requests for term-time holidays, but they are granted or refused entirely at the head teacher's discretion and are not a parental right
  • Heads in England were previously able to grant up to 10 days of leave a year for family holidays in "special circumstances". But since 1 September 2013, they have no longer been able to grant any absence in term time except under "exceptional circumstances"
  • If parents fail to ensure their children attend school, they may be issued with penalty notices of £50 to £100.
  • Prosecution can result in a fine of up to £2,500, a jail sentence of up to three months or a community sentence

"It's almost impossible for us to get leave at the same time as each other in the school holidays, so we couldn't wait until then."

She said she would ignore the decision and would appeal against any fines.

Head teacher of Clive School, Mary Lucas, said: "The school will only authorise leave in exceptional circumstances.

'Open door'

"On 16 June 2014 we received an application for a pupil leave of absence from 23 to 25 June."

Mrs Lucas said the school had a "very clear open-door policy" and she "would have been happy to talk to the parents about this request".

In a second statement, she said the school had received a "brief request" five working days before the proposed absence "which did not even make clear that it was the pupil's mother's wedding".

"If she had come into school to...explain it was her own wedding and why it had to be on this particular date, such as her working patterns, then it would have been quite likely that we would have agreed," she said.

The school said fines would only be given to a parent in cases of five days' unauthorised absence or more. "It appears that this is not the case in this situation," they said.

Shropshire Council said the head teacher of individual schools decided whether any case was exceptional.

Although fines can be imposed for unauthorised absence, it is at the discretion of the local authority.

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