Children are taught that if they behave and do what is expected of them, they’ll be rewarded. It’s all about following the rules, after all. But once in a while, an exception should be made.
A young girl with near perfect attendance at St. Giles’ Junior School in Bedworth, England, was banned from a school outing because she had missed a day of school. What sounds like a fair decision according to the school’s policy is actually a story of insensitivity and heartbreak, because the little girl missed school for a very tragic reason — but administrators didn’t seem to care.
Maddie Stevens, 11, was crushed when St. Giles’ Junior School decided she would not be able to attend the end-of-term field trip along with the rest of her classmates. The outing was only for students with perfect attendance, and Maddie had missed one day of school. The heartbreaking reason? She was at her mother’s funeral instead.
Maddie’s mother, Gail, was 48 when she succumbed to the breast cancer she’d been battling for two years. Her illness took a toll on Maddie, as it would on any child, and Maddie stuck by her mom in the toughest of times until the end.
After missing a single day of school to attend Gail’s funeral, Maddie learned she would not be able to go to the class field trip organized by St. Giles Junior School because she did not have perfect attendance. Maddie was heartbroken, and her father was outraged.
“It’s just so insensitive after everything she’s been through,” Maddie’s father, Andy, said in an interview. “She got very upset when Gail passed away and at the funeral, but she’s just tried to get on with things, and after all that, she gets this kick in the face,” said Andy.
Maddie’s father, and many in the community, feel St. Giles owes Maddie an apology, but so far the school hasn’t offered one.
Because of the complaints and all the media attention, St. Giles has simply stopped rewarding students for perfect attendance. Many feel the policy change is no consolation for the cruelty Maddie had to deal with in the wake of her mother’s death.
Maddie’s situation has raised questions in the community about whether administrators went too far with her punishment. One thing is certain: this little girl did not deserve that treatment. Hopefully, Maddie and her family can heal and move beyond this painful time soon.
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