Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedfordshire school defends head's term-time leave

View of Caribbean
Image caption The decision to allow head teacher Jenny Winder to go to the Caribbean was deemed "appropriate"

A school which bans pupils from taking term-time breaks has said a decision to allow its head teacher to go on a January holiday was "appropriate".

Jenny Winder, head of Elstow School in Bedfordshire, is taking a week off after the Christmas break to go to the Caribbean.

Parents labelled the move "disgusting", but school governors said it was for personal reasons.

Mrs Winder said: "My private life is exactly what it says - private."

Chair of governors, Kevin Hunter, said Mrs Winder was "devoted, well-liked, extremely hardworking and effective".

"She made what we have judged to be a request for a week off during term time for personal reasons which we have judged appropriate," he said.

Image caption Elstow School said its head teacher's term-time leave was for "personal reasons"

On its website, the Abbeyfields Road school, which caters for four to 11 year olds, says parents "do not have the right" to take their child out of the classroom for family holidays during term time and it "will not authorise" such absences.

'Fined twice'

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said the head's leave was "absolutely disgusting".

"I've been fined twice for taking my children out of school and I put in a request to take them out next year and it's been refused," she said.

"I think she should either give us an explanation why she is taking time off.... or at least grant people holiday to do it themselves."

Image caption The school said parents "do not have the right" to take children out of the classroom

Another, who asked to be known as Jane, said it was "terrible".

"If we could go [on holiday] in term time, that would save my family a lot of money," she said.

Bedford Borough Council said term-time leave for teachers was "at the discretion" of governors.

A spokeswoman said the head told the council she had not taken holiday during term in her 14 years at the school.

The government effectively banned term-time holidays for pupils in September 2013 by introducing fines for unauthorised absences

Parents are fined £60 per parent per child per period of absence, which rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

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