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Parents receive £120 fine from Harefield Academy for taking son on first holiday in seven years
A mother and father are furious after they came back from holiday to find a fine from their son’s school for an unauthorised absence - despite informing teachers of the trip.
Photographer John Styles of Pinner Park Avenue, and his wife Lin, took their son to Estonia in December, in the family’s first holiday in seven years - but were each fined £60 when they returned.
Their son Liam, a year-seven gymnast and swimmer at Harefield Academy in Uxbridge - who had even received a certificate for his 100 per cent attendance record - was absent for four days before the Christmas break.
The family went on the trip because Mrs Styles was recovering from having her stomach removed after suffering from cancer and Mr Styles was recovering from knee surgery.
They have also had to look after Liam’s grandmother, who died on Saturday after suffering from Alzheimer’s for eight years, and his grandfather, who has dementia.
Mr Styles said the school had been informed of the trip, which the family badly needed, and that some of the teachers wished them a happy holiday.
He said: “We went and tried to relax.
“The nicest thing about the whole trip was getting to see my son just be a normal child because this has been such a difficult time for the family.”
When the family returned from holiday they found a letter asking them to pay £60 each because of the absence.
Mrs Styles contacted the school and asked to speak to the headteacher but was refused.
They were put through to the attendance officer and Mrs Styles broke down into tears when explaining the situation to the school.
She was told to write the school a letter so the situation could be resolved, which she did.
A few weeks later the family received a letter from Hillingdon Council saying they had one week to pay the fine or it would double and they might have to appear in court.
Mr Styles said: “I was happy to go to court, put my case to the judge and then if he wants to fine me, he can.”
He decided to pay the fine after his wife’s boss called and said she was very upset at work and he should consider her health and just pay the fine.
The family paid the fine last Wednesday but do not believe they were at fault.
Mr Styles said: “I really think this is wrong.
“I think it’s so unfair because my son has never had to be forced to go to school – he loves it.
“I’m disgusted by the school because they couldn’t even talk to us.”
Harefield Academy headteacher Lynn Gadd said the school would never allow a student to be absent during term time, even if the student had a 100 per cent attendance record.
She said: “This is government policy and all schools have to follow this rule.
“It makes no difference who the family are.”