Shows affected by school absences dilemma

The Driffield Show
The Driffield Show
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School children are being denied the chance to attend this year’s Driffield Show because of new government policy which has tightened up rules on school absences.

A group of furious parents say they may take their children to the show anyway, even if that means recording unauthorised absences which can lead to a fine.

Under the Absence from School for Exceptional Circumstances policy, children can only be absent under exceptional circumstances such as bereavement, serious illness and family weddings.

Head teacher at Nafferton primary Duncan Baird informed parents that he will not approve leave for the show under advice from East Riding Council. Head teacher at Driffield School and Sixth Form, Simon Jones, said he would decide after talks with parents, the council and other schools, but Driffield Junior School’s head teacher, Linda Laird, said she would use discretionary rights in defining what constitutes “exceptional circumstances” to allow pupils to go.

The rules are likely to affect other shows, including the Great Yorkshire Show, which will be attended by the Countess of Wessex on July 8 and Princess Anne on July 9, organisers announced. Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, said: “A few parents contacted us to say they have children at different schools and one school said they can go and the other said they can’t. We understand why the Government has tightened up on absences but two weeks off on a foreign holiday during term is different to one day at an agricultural show. We urge head teachers to use common sense.”