Mum fined £800 for taking children out of school to celebrate beating cancer

19 July 2019, 12:57 | Updated: 19 July 2019, 13:38

A mum was fined for taking her kids out of school
A mum was fined for taking her kids out of school. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Katie McDermott took her children out of school during term-time to celebrate being free of cancer.

A mum has been fined £788 after she took her four children on holiday during term-time to celebrate her cancer recovery.

Katie McDermott, 36, from Lancashire was given the all-clear from breast cancer in October last year, so asked her kids’ school for six days off so the family could go to Tenerife.

According to The Mirror, she wrote a letter to Central Lancaster High School in December, but after not getting a response she decided to book the holiday anyway.

The school then replied to Katie and her husband Darren, 40, two days before they were due to travel, stating the family getaway didn’t amount to 'exceptional circumstances'.

Despite their application being denied, the family decided to go on the trip anyway, but on their return they received a letter from the local authority.

After the incident was passed on to Lancaster Magistrates' Court, the couple were fined a total of £788 for taking their children out of school without permission.

The school refused Katie's application
The school refused Katie's application. Picture: Getty Images

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Appealing the decision, Katie and Darren insisted their secondary school aged children, Joseph, 14, and Oliver, 12, had never applied for time off before.

While their five-year-old daughter Ava WAS given permission to take time out from her primary school and their youngest Ella, four, is still at nursery.

Katie said: "The kids have been so good throughout everything, it was really difficult but they kept going.

"They have always gone into school and done their work without any problems at all.

"The school have said they were model students and that we should be proud of them.

She added: "I really feel like they deserved this trip after everything they have been through.”

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Nicola Hall, head teacher at Central Lancaster High School, has since defended the decision, explaining that they simply followed regulations “imposed by the government”.

She told us: "As a school we empathise with the wide range of sensitive issues which require compassion and consideration in all of our families.

"In accordance with regulations imposed by the government, the school has adopted a policy not to authorise term-time family holidays.

"We recognise the importance of children being consistently in school to access their whole curriculum offer.

“We hope all parents understand the limitations placed on schools in granting leave."

The holiday to Tenerife was funded by an event held by the family’s loved ones who donated money, with the term-time dates being chosen due to them being cheaper.

Katie has since set up a crowdfunding page to raise money to pay for the fine.

This comes after the Supreme Court ruling in April 2017 confirmed that parents can't take children on term-time holidays without risking being fined.

Head teachers are only allowed to say yes in "exceptional circumstances". If they are taken out of school anyway, parents could face a fine or even worse.