Parents’ row with Cosham school as family take holiday of a lifetime

Joanne Williams with her children Cole, left, and Celyck

Joanne Williams with her children Cole, left, and Celyck

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  • Six-year-old missed three weeks of school to meet family for the first time
  • Parents still given £60 fine
  • School declined invitation to give pupil homework
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IT WAS the holiday of a lifetime and it was the first chance for two young boys to meet their Canadian family.

But mum Joanne Williams has told of her disgust as her son’s school refused to authorise the time off or give him any homework while he was away.

It was an important event for the family. It was for the children to see where they are from and see the family they have never met

Joanne Williams, mum

Celyck Williams, six, is a pupil at Highbury Primary School in Cosham and Joanne had asked the school for three-and-a-half weeks off to allow him to attend his aunt’s wedding in Victoria BC, Canada.

The boy and his younger brother Cole, two, have never met their dad Steve’s side of the family before.

Joanne, 32, from Dame Judith Way, said: ‘Me and Steve don’t ever go on holiday. He’s from Canada and we had been saving for a long time to go there.

‘His sister was getting married plus his grandmother was turning 96 and she’s getting quite sick.

‘It was an important event for the family. It was for the children to see where they are from and see the family they have never met.

‘We kept asking for some homework. But then we were told because he is only six all his assessments will be done before he goes so there was nothing they could give us.’

Joanne, who has now been sent a fine for £60, is unhappy with the way the school dealt with her request.

‘He’s doing well at school. I think people should come and assess your circumstances.

‘They should have put something in place where we could still educate our child and check in every week.

‘This was our first ever holiday as a family. Steve hadn’t been to Canada for six years. The boys had never been to Canada. We wouldn’t normally go at this time but it was for a wedding.

‘I just feel disgusted. Why should we pay the government £60?

‘He probably learnt more going to Canada than he would have during the last two weeks of school. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.’

Di Smith, director of children’s services and education at Portsmouth City Council said: ‘Headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances. If permission isn’t obtained parents are likely to receive a penalty fine, as under the education act, it’s an offence for a child not to attend school on a regular basis.’

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