Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Torch Relay: Basingstoke pupils refused school absence

A Hampshire school has been criticised for not allowing children out of class to see the Olympic Torch.

Everest Community Academy in Basingstoke said pupils' absence would be treated as unauthorised. It said the torch relay had been "disappointing".

Parent Kevin Ledger said: "It's a once in a lifetime event, with educational merit."

The torch is due to go through Basingstoke on 11 July on its relay around the UK before the Games.

A newsletter sent to parents stated the "paramount concern is for the welfare of our children."

It said feedback from teachers in areas the torch had already been through was that there was "an overwhelming sense of disappointment" because "it is such a brief moment and opportunities to see the torch are very limited."

Mr Ledger who has one child at the academy and another at a school which is allowing pupils out of school, dismissed the criticism of the relay.

"I don't think it's fair. To be honest, if we only see the torch for a split second, it's all about the atmosphere."

Vice Principal Ali Beecham said only two requests had been received to take pupils out of class. "If parents want to take children out of school, it is their responsibility," she said.

She said the school would be showing the live internet video stream of the torch relay to pupils on the day.

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