The right decision? Pupil, 12, refused day off from Wymondham school the day before her bat mitzvah

Wymondham High Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Wymondham High Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A 12-year-old girl has been refused a day off school to spend time with American relatives and prepare for her bat mitzvah the next day.

Wymondham High Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Wymondham High Academy. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Nicole Gross-Camp asked Wymondham High Academy whether her daughter Senna could have this Friday off to prepare for the Jewish ceremony on Saturday.

She said relatives from America would be flying in for the first family gathering in nine years.

But the school refused the request, saying the absences for religious reasons covered ceremonies and travelling time, but did not take into account extended leave.

Jon Platt with wife Sally outside the Supreme Court. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Jon Platt with wife Sally outside the Supreme Court. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Credit: PA

MORE: Family wins their case against fine for holiday absenceMrs Gross-Camp, who lives in Besthorpe with her family, described the decision as 'unfair'.


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'The preparation for this kind of event takes place over the course of a year, so in a sense she is ready,' she said. 'But the day would be a chance to do any last-minute preparation, relax and spend time with her family.

'It's a very big life event - so rare and significant that family are coming over from America, bringing us together for the first time in nine years.'

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She described her daughter as a 'model student' with 99.26pc attendance, who was doing well socially and academically, and said the family was planning to keep their children off school on Friday.

Though Robert Kett Primary School, also in Wymondham, initially approved the same request for her nine-year-old son, they have since refused.

MORE: More parents in Norfolk and Suffolk fined for school absences than anywhere else in EnglandJonathan Rockey, principal of Wymondham High Academy, said: 'Wymondham High Academy takes its responsibility regarding the attendance of its pupils very seriously, following the guidance from the Department for Education and local authority.

'We believe by doing this, we maintain the very highest expectations of our children.

'The guidance states that absences for important religious observances are often taken into account but only for the ceremony and travelling time, not extended leave.'

He said the school appreciates it is a complex area and tries to work with parents.

MORE: 'A child's education is worth more than a week in the sun'Mrs Gross-Camp said she felt the decision had been influenced by the recent landmark Supreme Court case, which saw Isle of Wight father Jon Platt lose his battle after refusing to pay a fine for taking his daughter to Florida on holiday.

Supreme Court case offers clarification

Though school term time holidays are always contentious, they have hit the headlines in recent months.

In April, Mr Platt lost his closely-watched case against Isle of Wight Council at the Supreme Court, despite victories with magistrates and the High Court.

He argued that his daughter had good attendance - and that families should not penalised for a term time break if attendance was otherwise strong.

Prior to the decision, families over the country had enjoyed victories at magistrate level, with many fines overturned.

Though it looked as though the tide was turning, with some councils relaxing their stances, the Supreme Court ruling has given schools, councils and parents clarification.

Many expect schools and councils to now take a tough approach to unauthorised absence - and it is likely that families may reconsider when they book their holidays.

• What do you think of the decision? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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