We have received in excess of 100 emails over the last few days regarding our students participating in this year’s cheerleading trip to the world championships in America. These have been sent, largely from the cheerleading fraternity, from across the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA. It is wonderful to hear from passionate supporters of the sport. We also thank parents, students and ex-students of Willink who have joined this lively debate and given their considered views.
The Willink views the annual cheerleading trip to America as a great venture for our students. Each year we approve student absence from school – as an approved sporting activity - and on their return we celebrate their successes in assemblies and through our newsletter “We Link”.
This year we have students participating once again. The school has approved or is in the process of approving the absence from school of two year 10 students to go to the US. With regard to two year 11 students who have applied for leave of absence, we have not approved their absence from school as the trip takes up a significant period of time just prior to their GCSE examinations. These students went on the cheerleading trip to the USA last year when their attendance on the trip was approved. We are not saying these same students cannot go again; this is a matter of parental choice. What we have said is that we cannot authorise their absence this time around. Parents may contact the school about this decision and we, as always, are happy to discuss the matter further with them – indeed conversations have already taken place as would be normal in a school. To clarify:
- The school has not banned pupils from taking part in the trip.
- The school has not banned year 11 pupils from attending this year's prom.
- The school cannot authorise the absence of pupils during the run up to their GCSEs
- We are having discussions with the parents of the pupils concerned.
Peter Fry, Head, The Willink School.
25th January 2018