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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Ulverston grandfather’s funeral puts school places in jeopardy

THREE grieving children have been warned their school places are in jeopardy because they took time off to attend their Ulverston grandfather’s funeral.

When parents Andrew and Danielle Overend-Hogg returned with their youngsters from burying their 82-year-old grandfather James Hogg, the local school had sent a threatening letter warning them about missing class.

The three heartbroken children, Teagan, nine, Isla, five and Elsie-Mae, three, travelled with their parents and baby brother Noah from their home in Sheffield to Ulverston for the funeral service at St Mary of Furness Catholic Church earlier this month.

Mr Hogg’s funeral stretched over two days, meaning the three youngsters missed a week of school.

The pensioner was well known locally and had played bowls for the town’s Devonshire Arms. His wife Mavis died just eight months earlier.

Mr and Mrs Overend-Hogg said they were “disgusted” by the letter that awaited their return.

Officials in Ballifield Primary School in Sheffield said the absence was “unsanctioned” and as a result could even jeopardise their place in the school.

Mr Overend-Hogg, 35, who grew up in Ulverston, was highly critical of the school’s reaction to the family’s decision to pay their final respects to his father.

He said: “It wasn’t like this was a holiday but the letter we received was so cold, there wasn’t even any ‘sorry for your loss’. ”

New regulations introduced by the government last August to crack down on term time absences means children are allowed leave only in “exceptional circumstances”.

Mrs Overend-Hogg, 31, added: “If these aren’t exceptional circumstances, then I’m not sure what are.

“It’s a disgrace that a school could put Ofsted box-ticking ahead of the feelings of three very upset young children – especially so close after the death of their granddad.”

Mrs Overend-Hogg said she told the school in advance that the children would be missing for a week.

She said: “If somebody had explained that my children’s records would be penalised for missing school then we would have done things differently. But they didn’t and I think the way they’ve treated our family is appalling.”

The family left for Ulverston on the Monday, and had to spend a full day making the journey as Noah cannot spend too long in the car at once.

On Tuesday, the family were needed to organise the funeral service.

A wake was held on Wednesday with the requiem mass and funeral taking place the next day.

The family then returned home on Friday to find the school’s letter.

Headteacher Sheila Hague said: “This hasn’t been logged as unauthorised absence and it won’t attract a fixed penalty.

“It was a standard letter that was sent out, which is rather black and white, but we followed guidelines.”

Have your say

I recall a similar incident when my son took off one day from a well known local private school to attend his grandmothers funeral. He was 13 at the time and I wrote a letter explaining the reason for his absence. When he returned to school he was given detention for not handing in his homework on the day he was off.

Posted by Florence on 22 April 2014 at 21:20

I hope that the insensitive jobsworths that issued this letter are quickly dismissed. They have demonstrated clearly, that they should have no part in the education system of a civilized country!

Posted by SRS on 22 April 2014 at 19:16

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