Family of severely disabled boy barred from taking term-time holiday
13-year-old has been given only a few years to live
Emily Dugan is Social Affairs Editor for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards. Emily is on sabbatical until March 2015
Social Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 20 July 2014
The mother of a severely disabled teenager who has been given only a few years to live says she has been threatened with fines and prosecution if she takes him on a term-time holiday.
Curtis Ingrouille-Kidd, 13, has cerebral palsy, suffers epileptic fits and is blind.
His family have been told he could die any time between the ages of 14 and 19, yet his school would not give permission for the proposed trip because it is during term time.
The case is the latest apparent injustice sparked by a crackdown on truancy ordered by the former Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Previously families could take their children out of school for up to 10 days a year, but now this can only happen if the headteacher decides there are “exceptional circumstances”.
“My son is 14 in October … this could well be his last holiday”, Maxine Ingrouille-Kidd, 56, from Wedmore in Somerset said in an interview with The Sunday Times.
The mother of three wanted to take her son for a cruise in October and was “flabbergasted” when her request was turned down. The holiday had to be in term time because a suitable cabin with disabled access was not available for the half-term dates the family requested.
The holiday was planned to coincide with a silver wedding anniversary for Ms Ingrouille-Kidd and her husband Peter. Ms Ingrouille-Kidd claims she has been told she risks a fine and criminal prosecution if the holiday goes ahead.
“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’.”
The unnamed school is a mainstream state school with a provision for pupils with special needs and Somerset county council said it was investigating the allegations.
John Osman, leader of the council, said: “This case does sound exceptional. I am keen to talk to the headteacher.”
Ms Ingrouille-Kidd is one of several parents across the country taking a stand against the controversial policy, which has seen heads turn down requests for time off to attend funerals and weddings, as well as holidays. More than 200,000 people have now signed a petition calling for its urgent review.
A banker for JP Morgan who took his children out of school so they could go to their great-grandfather’s memorial service in America is currently fighting the rules in the courts. Mr Haymore appeared in court last Friday and will go to trial in October, when he could face a £2,500 fine and a jail term.
A lobby group on the issue, Parents Want A Say, has already written to the new Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, asking that she reviews the policy.
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.”
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