Boy Refused Time Off School For Mum's Wedding

A nine-year-old boy has been refused time off school to attend his mum's wedding.

Mum Claire Whitelegg is getting married in (hopefully) sunny Cornwall today (Tuesday, June 24), and asked Clive School in Shropshire if her son could be absent for three days.

The school refused the request, and Claire told BBC News that she was ignoring the decision, and planned to appeal if any fines were issued.

"My partner and I both work full time for the police and we do shift work. 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," said Claire.

Headteacher of Clive School, Mary Lucas, said although the school had received Claire's request, it was not clear the time off was for the wedding.

"The school will only authorise leave in exceptional circumstances," she said. "On 16 June 2014 we received an application for a pupil leave of absence from 23 to 25 June.

"The school has a very clear open door policy so that parents and staff can always have a conversation about the needs of children and I would have been happy to talk to the parents about this request if they had come to see me.

"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."

Shropshire Council said headteachers of individual schools ruled on whether cases were 'exceptional'.

Previously, pupils had been 'allowed' up to 10 days out of school a year for holidays and events, at the discretion of the school.

But since September 2013, fines can be issued if children miss school, unless the time off has been granted as an 'exceptional circumstance' – but the guidelines are pretty vague.

The Department of Education has intentionally not specified what 'exceptional circumstances' actually means, instead saying that 'schools know their pupils best and are well placed to make those judgements without central government attempting to undermine them'.

Clive School told reporters that fines would only be given to a parent in cases of five days' unauthorised absence or more, adding: "It appears that this is not the case in this situation."

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