Morecambe TT legend McGuinness fined by school

John McGuinness has been fined for taking his daughter out of school during term time.
John McGuinness has been fined for taking his daughter out of school during term time.

Morecambe missile John McGuinness has spoken of his “disappointment” after being fined for taking his daughter out of school so she could watch his big TT race.

The motorcycle ace - who says he couldn’t compete in the dangerous sporting event without all his family around him - received a £120 fine for taking five-year-old daughter Maisie on holiday during term-time for this year’s Isle of Man TT festival.

The 43-year-old was aware he would be fined for his daughter’s absence from Great Wood Primary School, Morecambe, during the two-week sporting event from May 30 to June 12.

The family were granted permission for an earlier trip to Australia but were told another trip would result in a fine.

Speaking exclusively to The Visitor, John said the fine is not the problem - it is the system which is not working.

The dad-of-two said: “I spoke to the council and they said the money just goes into the system - £120 has been taken from my family to go nowhere.

Great Wood Primary School, Beauford Road in Morecambe.

Great Wood Primary School, Beauford Road in Morecambe.

“I don’t understand the system, I’ll take the fine on the chin, I just can’t understand why the money doesn’t go back into the school, that’s the problem.”

For McGuinness the fine was the only option as the Isle of Man TT festival is one of the biggest races - experienced by all of the family.

John, who won the seventh Senior TT title this year, said without his family by his side he simply cannot compete.

He said: “The TT is the biggest most dangerous thing for me and I have my family around me for it.

“I do a mainly risky job, you can’t concentrate without your family around you, they are my rock, I need them around me in situations like this.

“My dad goes to the TT and most of the family are in the Isle of Man so I can’t leave the kids with nobody.

“When we are there my wife takes the children everywhere to museums, so they are learning all the time. For as long as I am riding they will be there.”

The McGuinness family are looking at other options next year for the TT race when 14-year-old Ewan will be sitting his GCSEs.

John said: “Ewan is 15 next year so we will have to think about that, we have been speaking to Morecambe High for him to maybe do exams in the Isle of Man, but both Great Wood and Morecambe High are good schools.”

Permission needs to be granted by the headteacher if parents are requesting to take their children on holiday during term-time.

This can only be done by completing an application to the head in advance or if there is exceptional circumstances.

Figures released by Lancashire County Council show 259 fines issued for unauthorised leave since September 2014 for the Lancaster, Morecambe, Carnforth and Fylde areas.

County Councillor Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “School attendance is given high priority in Lancashire schools and rightly so, as every day counts in each pupil’s education.

“The decision to authorise absence or not rests with the headteacher of the particular school and penalty notices are an enforcement option that are available to local authorities, if requested by schools.

“However our aim throughout is not to punish parents but to ensure that children and young people attend school and receive a good education.”

John Ross, headteacher at Great Wood, said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on individual pupils.

“However, in line with the stricter government guidelines, we are only able to authorise absence in exceptional circumstances.

“We have to take each request on its merits but our starting point is that term times are for education and every day of a child’s education is important.”

Although McGuinness has been fined he understands the school is following procedures.

John said: “I have had a chat with the headmaster, he is just doing his job, it is not him I am having a go at. We are in a position to pay it but when families are struggling it is hard.

“When it comes to biking I want my kids with me, it is hard to understand the risk involved.

“That is what I do for a living. I want my children to have a good education, if they need a better education I’ll make sure they’ll get that education.”