A union boss today called on the Government to clarify the reasons for which children may be allowed off school after a budding actor was denied two days off to film a TV commercial.
Aspiring actor Oliver McGonigle, nine, wanted to go to London for two days during school time to film the commercial for a pharmaceutical company.
But as revealed in The Gazette yesterday, his school, Holy Family Primary in North Shore, would not authorise the days off after the casting agency failed to get a licence for him.
Headteacher Helen Moreton said the school was supportive of Oliver’s career hopes – but said it was hamstrung by the lack of a licence and Government crackdowns on pupils missing school for unauthorised reasons.
Now Andy Mellor, the Fylde coast representative for the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), said: “Essentially headteachers are put in a position whereby they are permitted to allow absence in certain circumstances.
“However those circumstances aren’t specified and therefore heads are asked to choose what is allowable and what isn’t. Ensuring consistency and fairness for all families and all pupils is almost impossible.
“That’s why, many heads, myself included will not authorise any absence in term time unless it is for medical reasons. The government need to make it clear what they believe to be acceptable absences from school.
“Only then will we as headteachers be able to get the consistency across all families and all schools that we need.
“We will then end up with a system which parents understand and can see to be fair.”
All children who perform on stage or in television must have a licence from their local authority, which can only be granted if it is satisfied that the child’s education will not suffer as a result.
Blackpool Council confirmed that the casting agency had not applied for a licence in this case. Oliver’s family has applied for him to go to Moor Park Primary from next year.