Mum Defies Term-Time Holiday Ban To Take Kids To Maypole Festival

23/04/2015 12:27 | Updated 23 June 2015

School absence: Mum flaunts term-time ban to take kids to Maypole festival

A mum is to defy education chiefs to take her four kids out of school during term time to attend a Maypole festival in Cornwall.

Anna James, 32, says she'll risk fines or prosecution rather than have her children miss the ancient 'Obby 'Oss celebrations in Padstow.

She told the school the rituals are part of her 'religion, culture and heritage' but her request to remove her kids from lessons was blocked under the Government's crackdown on unauthorised absences.

Despite this, Anna insists she'll take her children Ethan, 11, Piran, five, Sophia, eight, along with four-month-old Faith to the event on May 1.

The annual celebration is a centuries' old tradition, involving music and dancing through the streets, believed by some to be an ancient pagan fertility ritual which heralds the arrival of spring.

Anna, who moved from Padstow to St Austell, Cornwall, eight years ago, told her local paper: "I think it's ridiculous that I'm being told I can't take my children to the event. 'Obby 'Oss is something which my family has celebrated for generations.

"It's part of our heritage, our culture and our religion. If I wanted to take children out of school for some other religion I think it would be a different story.

"I don't expect the St Austell schools to close, but I do think that any school in Cornwall should be sensitive to the needs of people from Padstow to return to their home town on May 1. The event itself is educational."

Padstow Primary School children are included in the 'Obby 'Oss tradition. But leaders at Bishop Bronescombe School in St Austell wouldn't authorise Anna's request for her children to join them.

Anna said: "For Padstow residents the day is a massively important part of their cultural heritage.

"I'm not an expert on its origins but I do believe it can be described as having religious significance.

"Just because I don't live in Padstow any more doesn't mean I can't celebrate my religion. I would do the same even if I lived in Australia."

The crackdown on absences was announced by the then Education Secretary Michael Gove in 2013. Its intention was to stop parents taking children out of school to benefit from cheaper holidays.

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