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12-year-old expelled from school for visiting dying grandfather in Alaksa

A single dad who took his son out of school to visit his dying grandfather in Alaska has been left devastated after the 12-year-old was expelled for missing too many days of school


52-year-old VW worker Scott Palfrey and his son Josh travelled 6,000 miles from Pheasey, near Birmingham to North America to see 83-year-old Arthur, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

They left on the on March 26, which was the first day of the Easter holidays, and returned six-weeks later on the 21st May, just days after Josh’s grandad passed away.

On their return Barr Beacon School in Aldridge, West Midland, informed them that Josh had been expelled in his absence.

His dad now says the school are ‘punishing’ him.

‘I feel completely disappointed and let down by the whole system. It’s all percentages and figures and all about money, not a child’s welfare and education. In certain circumstances you should be a bit more flexible. My boss said take as long as you need, it’s your dad, and that’s how I expect people to be treated’.

Despite the expulsion, he says he has no regrets in making sure his son remembers his grandfather.

‘I’d do it all over again – 100 per cent…It was absolutely priceless for my son to see my dad in his final weeks of being alive.

‘Sitting together on the settee, with his grandson, talking about his history in the Navy and his days as a mounted policemen. He wasn’t there when Josh was growing up, so it was important my son knew about his life’.

Josh was officially ‘removed from the school roll” on May 10th, with Mr Palfrey informed by a letter from head teacher Dame Maureen Brennan.

Josh, who is only in his second year at the school and already considered a straight-A pupil, has begged to be allowed back in. 

‘I just want to say to the head teacher, “Please allow me to come back to school.” I only left to visit my dying grandad in Alaska.

‘I had to go and see my grandad because I’ve only met him when I was a baby and last time I seen him was for two weeks a few years ago’.

Scott Palfrey says he understands ‘it is not ideal to take your child out of school for this amount of time, but this was an exceptional circumstance. It was hardly a quick flight to Spain or a holiday to Disney world’.

Mr Palfrey does admit he was warned that his son would lose his place at the school if he was not back by a certain date but ‘made the decision to go anyway’. He added that it ‘was an extremely emotional time for the family and I felt this the right decision.

‘I am just furious that it has come to this. My son is now very upset as he loves the school and has friends there’.

Barr Beacon School has defended its actions saying it is ‘highly oversubscribed’ with Year 8 over-capacity with 270 children.

They say ‘we have class sizes of 33. We are receiving requests for places on a near daily basis and as soon as a child leaves we have further requests for that place.’

It comes just over a month after a dad who refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his daughter on an unauthorised term-time holiday won a High Court ruling in his favour.

She missed seven days of lessons, but magistrates ruled that as she attended school regularly overall, the school did not have a case.

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