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Model Stourport pupil’s dad calls for auditions leave
A FATHER fears his son could miss out on launching a dream modelling career if teachers at his school do not authorise time off for auditions.
Paul Pulling, 49, of Bewdley Road North, Stourport, said his son Callum, 14, a year 10 pupil at Stourport High School and VIth Form Centre, had successfully applied to join UKMM Agency in London, whose clients include fashion brands for trainers and sportswear, as well as television companies.
Callum could see his chance slip away, however, if he is unable to obtain a child performance licence from Worcestershire County Council, which requires a signature from school leaders, who must also allow him to take any time off he might need.
Principal Liz Quinn said because no specific dates had been requested she was unable to authorise any leave of absence but Mr Pulling has hit out at the school, saying he wanted assurances in case the agency summoned Callum during term time.
The father-of-two searched for modelling agencies after wedding photographers told him Callum could be a model.
He said his son was a good student and added: "We are not saying we want to take him out of school for weeks on end - we are just saying there should be an option to allow him to have an authorised absence if he needs to go during the week.
"I am worried he will miss out on contracts that could set him up for the rest of his life. He feels like his dream could be shattered. It is a doorway that gives him an opportunity to progress forward and he is being denied that. I just want the best for him."
He criticised the school for "not being consistent" and said some youngsters were given time off for skiing or football.
Mrs Quinn said each case was considered individually against a strict set of criteria.
She told The Shuttle: "In line with local and national guidance we wouldn't authorise an absence for which there were no dates provided.
"The latest guidance is clear leave of absence can only be granted for exceptional circumstances. It is also clear students on an examination course [such as GCSEs] would not normally be granted leave and this applies to any activity.
"We try to be fair and keep in mind anyone under 16 is expected to be at school studying. On very rare occasions when we do grant leave, we balance the benefit of the activity to academic study and ensure supervised study can take place while on leave. If an activity doesn't meet this criteria, it's unlikely to be granted."
She said Ofsted regularly scrutinised the school's attendance record to check rules were applied.
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