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School issues torch ban
A BASINGSTOKE secondary school has banned pupils from going to watch the Olympic Torch coming through their home town.
Students at Everest Community Academy will miss out on actually witnessing the historic moment after principal Julie Rose wrote to parents to say that no requests to take a child out of school on Wednesday, July 11, will be authorised. Instead, pupils will watch the relay on television.
However, one Basingstoke couple, who were disappointed by the decision, have decided to take their two children out of school any way to watch the historic relay.
Kevin Ledger, whose 12-year-old son Ryan and 14-year-old daughter Sadie, attend the Popley school, said: “I really feel this ban is such a let-down and it will be a disappointment to the many children who would like to see this once-in-a-lifetime event.
“It’s such a shame that the views of one person will mean all those children miss out. It’s not really in the spirit of the Olympic story.”
Mr Ledger and his wife Sarah, from Popley, want to take their whole family to see the relay. Their request to take their six-year-old daughter Zoe out of Marnel Community Infant School for the day was approved.
Mrs Ledger, 37, said: “Everest said they don’t think it was worthwhile. I sent an email to the head saying I wasn’t happy and I felt that the trip we planned had educational merits from the basis that it was historical and a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
A newsletter sent home to parents of Everest said: “My paramount concern is for the welfare of our children. I have spoken to headteachers and principals of schools that have already had the torch go through their area, and an overwhelming sense of disappointment has been expressed because it is such a brief moment and opportunities to see the torch are very limited.”
Ms Rose declined to speak to The Gazette further about the matter.
The Gazette has previously reported that schools were advised by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council not to take children to watch the relay because of a lack of space to accommodate them safely along the route, which runs from Winchester Road to Brighton Hill Roundabout.
But primary school headteachers have agreed to authorise absence for children whose parents request to take their children out of school for the day. Many secondary schools have also adopted the same policy, including Aldworth Science College in Western Way, Bishop Challoner Secondary School, in South Ham, and Brighton Hill Community College, in Brighton Way.
At The Vyne Community School, in South View, pupils have been given half a day off.
Headteacher Krista Dawkins asked parents if their child would like to see the torch relay, and she received an “overwhelming response” indicating they would. She wrote to parents to say: “As a result of the large numbers, the school will have a partial closure to allow your child to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event.”