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School defends head's 'soccer trip'
A school has defended its staff leave policies after its headmaster was reportedly granted a fortnight off to follow England at the World Cup in Brazil.
Stafford Leys Community Primary in Leicester refused to reveal the reason for the absence of Ed McGovern but said its leave procedures aimed to "achieve a balance between work and leisure" for employees.
Parents with children at the school have accused Stafford Leys, in Leicester Forest East, of double standards because pupils' parents can be fined for taking holiday during term-time.
The Sun reported that Mr McGovern, 55, was granted unpaid leave with the help of his union after his initial request was rejected.
In a statement confirming that Mr McGovern had been granted leave by governors, the school said: "Requests for leave of absence for personal reasons can be made by staff in line with our school policy.
"Our leave of absence policy states that the Governors 'will endeavour to facilitate requests for leave' and will wherever possible seek to achieve for our employees a balance between home, work and leisure as part of our commitment to being an employer of choice."
The school statement continued: "The request was for unpaid leave of absence for personal reasons which has been approved by the governing body after careful consideration.
"We have made provision to ensure that, during the period of this absence, strong cover for leadership of the school is in place and standards of teaching and learning will remain high.
"Our headteacher has led the school with distinction for the past 10 years. During that time the school has improved from being judged by Ofsted as having serious weaknesses to our most recent inspection earlier this year which showed that all aspects were at least good.
"His attendance record over this period has been exemplary and he has never previously made a request for leave of absence."
Speaking outside the school gates, a mother-of-two who did not want to be named said: "It doesn't bother me that he's taking time out of school as it's not affecting the children."
She said letters had been sent to the parents to inform them Mr McGovern had taken leave for personal reasons.
"I was surprised because he's quite strict on the children being taken out of school but I've no concerns for my children and their education. It's a brilliant school and the deputy head is in place," she said.
Another parent, who also did not want to be named, said she was not concerned about the headteacher taking the time off as it was unpaid.
She said: "I haven't got a problem with this. It's unpaid leave and it's not affecting our children. What he does in his personal life is his business.
"Stafford Leys do not currently charge us for taking our children out of school during term time, it goes down as unauthorised absence.
"The two weeks he (Mr McGovern) has taken is unpaid leave. During that time there won't be any impact on our children's education. The deputy head is in place.
"If it is for football then that is his hobby. What's the problem? He's entitled to personal time off."
The National Association of Head Teachers declined to comment on where Mr McGovern was but said he had been granted the time off after "years of distinguished service".
In a statement, the NAHT, said: "Mr McGovern applied for an unpaid leave of absence and was granted the time off by his governing body after many years of distinguished service.
"We represented our member during the appeal as we would all members on personnel issues. Ultimately, the decision belongs to the governing body, which appears to have acted in line with its own policies and at no cost to the public purse."