Governor calls for Elstow Lower School head teacher to cancel term-time holiday in Caribbean

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A school governor has called on a head teacher to cancel the controversial Caribbean holiday she plans to take in term time.

Jenny Winder, head teacher at Elstow Lower School is taking a week off after the Christmas holidays for a beach break despite it being the start of school term.

Elstow School. PNL-141022-124157001

Elstow School. PNL-141022-124157001

Mrs Winder, 53, has refused to give an explanation and said: “My private life is exactly what it says - private.”

Her holiday was approved as ‘appropriate’ by a sub-committee of the school’s governors and chairman Kevin Hunter said Mrs Winder was “devoted” and “well-liked”.

He said: “She made what we have judged to be a request for a week off during term time for personal reasons which we have judged appropriate.”

But parent governor the Reverend Jeremy Crocker said the sub-committee was presented with the decision as though it had already been made.

He said he raised it with Mr Hunter because he had “misgivings about the double-standard of a head teacher taking a holiday in term-time”.

He added that Mrs Winder sent a letter to parents saying the vote to allow her to take the holiday was “unanimous” despite this being untrue.

Rev Crocker, rector at three churches, said he wanted to clarify his own position and said Mrs Winter should apologise to staff and parents and cancel her holiday.

He said: “I hold the view that the chair of governors should resign, Mrs Winder should apologise to both the staff and parents and she should not go on the holiday.”

The website for the school, which caters for four to 11-year-olds, says parents “do not have the right” to take their child out of the classroom for family holidays during term time.

It adds that the school “will not authorise” such absences and parents are fined £60 per parent per child per period of absence, which rises to £120 if not paid within 21 days.

One parent said: “Ms Winder is taking a week off in the New Year after the children have gone back.

“This is so unfair as teachers already get so many holidays and yet we wouldn’t be allowed to take our children out of school for even a day.”

Another branded the decision as “disgusting” and added: “I’ve been fined twice for taking my children out of school and I put in a request to take them out next year and it’s been refused.

“I think she should either give us an explanation why she is taking time off or at least grant people holiday to do it themselves.”

Crispin Maddocks, an Elstow Parish Councillor, said: “The decision seems unusual, perhaps a little strange given that parents are being told in a pretty severe fashion that they are not allowed to take their children out of school at any time during the year. But my particular feeling is that it will be difficult for her to manage her staff in terms of their holiday.

“How is she going to argue that a member of staff shouldn’t have a holiday in term time when she has requested it herself?”

Bedford Borough Council said: “Teachers continue to work throughout the year including school holidays and may be granted leave within term-time at the discretion of the school’s board of governors.”

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