A row has broken out after a school headteacher took a day off work during term time to go to Rome to watch a rugby match.
Bill Mann, headteacher at Eccleston Saint Mary’s Church of England Primary School, flew to Rome on Friday, February 10, to watch the following day’s Italy v Ireland Six Nations match.
Some parents were angry that the headmaster had been allowed to take time off in term time, while parents in the county have been fined for taking their children out of school.
But others have leapt to Mr Mann’s defence, saying he is a hard-working and exceptional headteacher.
One person went so far as to send an anonymous letter to Lancashire County Council, copied to the Guardian, asking why the headteacher had been allowed to take time off in term time.
The letter said: “When authorities are fining parents for taking their children out of school in term time it is hard to believe that the headteacher at Eccleston St Mary’s in Eccleston was absent from school on the last day of term as he was flying to Italy.”
The letter writer went on to ask whether the headteacher would be fined and whether his pay would be docked as a consequence.
But the governors have mounted a staunch defence of Mr Mann.
Garry Fishwick, chair of governors at Eccleston St Mary’s CE Primary School, said: “Bill Mann has been an exceptional head teacher at St Mary’s for the last 17 years, and has led the school to outstanding ratings from both Ofsted and the Church of England.
“Mr Mann always works very hard for the school and has been working particularly long hours over recent months, taking on teaching responsibilities as well as his usual leadership role, and steering the school through a rigorous inspection by the Diocese.
“On the day in question, Mr Mann worked from home in the morning and then took a flight in the afternoon, which I was pleased to sanction given the excessive hours he had been working during the previous few weeks.“
Mr Fishwick went on to say that the school has robust complaints procedures in place and urged anyone with concerns about any aspect of school life to raise them directly with the school.
The school in The Green is rated by Ofsted as Outstanding as of its last inspection in 2011.
According to UK government guidelines parents must secure permission from the school’s headteacher if they want to take their children out of classes during term time.
They are only able to do this if they make an application to the headteacher in advance or if there are exceptional circumstances.
It is up to the head how many days a child can be away from school if leave is granted.
Parents can be fined for taking their children on holiday during term time without the school’s permission.
Mr Mann declined to comment to the Guardian.