Potters Bar headteacher defends closing school for European Championship game

Alan Davison, headteacher of Dame Alice Owen's School in Potters Bar

Alan Davison, headteacher of Dame Alice Owen's School in Potters Bar - Credit: Archant

A Potters Bar headteacher is under fire for closing his school so teachers and pupils can watch a keenly anticipated international football match on television.

Alan Davison has informed parents that Dame Alice Owen’s School will close this afternoon (Thursday, June 16) when England kick off against Wales at 2pm in the European Championship in Lens, France.

One parent said: “If parents had decided to remove their child from school for such a frivolous reason, the school’s own Pastoral Care Policy indicates that it would not be considered a valid reason for authorised absence, and we would be liable to pay a fine.

“If the school wants to close because the teachers cannot bear to miss a football match, they should pay a fine to the parents for unauthorised absence.”

Mr Davison, who wil leave the Dugdale Lane school at the end of this term, said: “The school takes its responsibilities to pupils very seriously, as reflected in the judgement of Ofsted and exam results.

“However, we also take very seriously the need for good teacher-pupil relationships. We take on board the views of the CBI, which recommends employers are flexible about this.

“School teachers and their pupils are among the few people who can not take afternoons off or re-arrange their lunch hours.

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“The FA sensibly arranges big matches in the evenings or at weekends, but this match is in the hands of UEFA.

“This is only the second time in 21 years of headship I have agreed to do this – the other was during the World Cup - and it will not be repeated.

“Some people will disagree. However I thought on this rare occasion, this was the right thing to do.”

He has received one other complaint frrom a parent, while another has emailed him to praise the decision.

Both Mount Grace School in Potters Bar and Chancellor’s in Brookmans Park confirmed they will be open as usual on the day.