Published: 00:00, 03 July 2015 |
Updated: 15:50, 03 July 2015
The head teacher of a primary school has threatened to kick children out if their parents take them on holiday during term time.
Angela Konarzewski head of Fleetdown Primary School in Lunedale Road, Dartford, made the shocking announcement in a newsletter, after staff and governors became frustrated with the amount of children taking time off.
Mrs Konarzewski said: “We want parents and pupils at Fleetdown who follow the school’s rules, and have decided that drastic measures need to be taken to halt the decline in attendance.”
When speaking on BBC Radio Kent this morning Mrs Konarzewski said: "I think their [children] education is more important than having a holiday with the family.
"It's not a human right to have a holiday."
She also said: "Children have a right to a very good education, we've got all the resources here.
"But if the system is being abused because parents are not allowing their child to be in school for all the hours that are allocated, then their children are being deprived and that does have an impact on their education."
The school has been given an “outstanding” rating by Ofsted for its past two inspections, in 2011 and last year.
In her newsletter the head claimed that as a result, Fleetdown had become “heavily oversubscribed” with “at least two children applying for every place.”
Parents have taken to Facebook to vent their anger at the school's threat.
Phil Gower said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful how hard working parents are fined for taking a family holiday! I’m entitled to quality time with my children. I don’t have the opportunity most of the time because I’m working.
"If your child has 100% attendance for the rest of the year, what’s the problem? It’s all about the school's Ofsted report, nothing more!
"I just don’t understand, if it’s so important for kids not to miss school, why have teacher training days during term time? It’s not like they don’t have enough time during half term, summer holidays etc! Also, it’s down to the teacher's discretion so it’s not fair anyway!”
Sharon Verbiest questioned whether the threat could even be legally put in place.
She said: "I’m not sure if she [Mrs Konarzewski] can legally expel a child and give away a place. Especially if their attendance is outstanding until that point. They would need to give several warnings before instigating this ruling.”
In November last year the Dartford Messenger exclusively revealed that Dartford came ninth out of Kent’s 12 districts, in respect of the number of penalty notices issued by KCC for unauthorised absences.
The 264 penalty notices. amounted to £14,040 raised in fines, compared to £8,060 in 2012-13 and just £2,700 in 2011-12.
The figures were revealed by a Freedom of Information request.
In her newsletter Mrs Konarzewski said parents knew the school's rules when they enrolled their children.
She said: “Our Home-School Agreement, that you are expected to sign before you child starts school, states that parents agree to take their children on holiday during school holidays only.
“However, this year we have an increasing number of families taking children away on holiday during school time. This is detrimental to their education: just one week away amounts to 25 hours of schooling missed that can never be repeated.
"I think their [children] education is more important than having a holiday with the family" - Angela Konarzewski
“As a result governors and I have decided that we may offer the places of pupils away on holiday to the next child on the waiting list for their year group.”
It is not known if the penalty, which will kick in from September, could effect all year groups or be specific to repeat offenders.
Mrs Konarzewski said: “If the place is filled by the time they return, then the place at Fleetdown will have to be renegotiated with an interview with a panel of governors and the headteacher.
“It is possible that your child will lose his/her place.”
Kent County Council said the threat from Mrs Konarzewski and Fleetdown's governors was unlawful.
A spokesman said:“Unauthorised absence from school to attend a holiday, cannot be seen as persistent or serious breaches of a school’s behaviour policy.
"In addition, the child could not arrange or choose to go on holiday. It would therefore be unlawful to exclude a child for the behaviour of their parents.
“Because it is contrary to the Education Regulations and Exclusion Guidance, Kent County Council would not support the action taken by the head teacher and governors of Fleetdown Primary School to amend their school policy to permanently exclude pupils whose absence is unauthorised.
“The head teacher of Fleetdown Primary School appears to be aware that it would be unlawful to exclude children on the basis described.
"Offering the places to other children would result in the school exceeding class size legislation and numbers going over the published admission number.
“As it is a local authority school, Kent County Council will be instructing the governors to amend their relevant behavioural and absence policy to reflect current legislation.”
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