Parents of a brave Sheffield youngster who successfully battled cancer are facing a fine from his school after a charity offered the family a free holiday break.
Sarah and Craig Davies have taken eight-year-old Max, a former Star SuperKid, and his 11-year-old sister Lily, out of classes all this week to go to Center Parcs in Nottinghamshire.
The trip is being funded by Amy’s Retreat, a Sheffield-based charity which pays for breaks for families affected by cancer. Sarah said both the youngsters’ schools had opposed their plans, threatening fines for each child of £60. The schools – Brook House Juniors and Westfield secondary school – say no final decision has yet been made on whether to impose the penalties.
But Sarah, of Springwell Avenue, Beighton, said the schools were failing to show any compassion by refusing to give permission for the holiday.
“Max was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in his bowel in March last year and has fought really hard and is now in remission,” she said. It is great that Amy’s Retreat have offered to pay for this break, which they want us to take in term time as it uses up less of their funds.
“But when we approached Brook House they initially refused the time off, saying Max had already enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime trip in school time when he went to Lapland for a day last year.”
Sarah said she knew schools were potentially left with no room to manoeuvre due to tough Government guidelines which only allow extra time off in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
But she added: “I just wish they’d use their common sense more than anything and show a bit of understanding. We are going to refuse to pay fines if they are imposed.”
Brook House head Mark Hinchliffe and Westfield headteacher Andy Ireland issued a joint statement on the case.
“We take the welfare and health of all our children seriously and are thrilled that Max is now in remission from leukaemia,” they said.
“Max and his family have been supported by his friends and teachers at Brook House during his treatment and we were happy to approve time out of school last year when Max was offered a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Lapland.
“No decision has yet been made by both schools about whether the family will incur a fine for an unauthorised school absence following their trip to Center Parcs. However, both schools are guided by the Government regulation relating to term-time holidays, and we would support the principle that all children should attend school consistently so they can benefit from the learning we provide.”
Max won a Star SuperKids award last year for his bravery while fighting for his life.
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