A crackdown on truancy ordered by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove in the United Kingdom is causing a family a great deal of distress. Maxine Ingrouille-Kidd has said that she is being threatened with fines and prosecution if she takes her critically ill son on holiday during school terms.
Her son, 13 year old Curtis Ingrouille-Kidd, has cerebral palsy, is blind and suffers from epileptic fits. He has been given only a few years left to live, with doctors stating he could die between the ages of 14 and 19, and yet the school will not give permission for him to leave on vacation with his family.
Says Maxine, “My son is 14 in October…this could well be his last holiday.”
Families are allowed to take their children up to ten days out of school, but can only happen if the headmaster decides there are “exceptional circumstances.”
Maxine is a mother of three who looks to take her family on a cruise in October and was “flabbergasted” when her request was denied. The date was the only time it would work for the family, as the cruise line would only have a suitable disabled suite available at that time.
“I am a law-abiding citizen and this has been very stressful,” she said. “Curtis is quadriplegic, has cerebral palsy and is registered blind. He is never going to have a career, he is going to spend the rest of his life with us looking after him… The only relaxation he can get is swimming, so a cruise ship with a pool where he can also enjoy the sensory motion of a boat is ideal for him. I asked for a holiday request form and was absolutely shocked and flabbergasted when the response was a ‘no’.”
Many parents are looking to take a stand against the policy, which also turns down such requests for funerals and weddings during term times. More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for its review.
The founder of Parents Want a Say, Craig Langman, said, “We believe that these rules interfere with everyone’s right to a family life and is creating tension between parents and the education system.”
The Department for Education said: “We have been clear that all head teachers are free to grant pupils leave in exceptional circumstances. It is up to head teachers to decide whether to grant time off, and how much time to grant.”