FAMILIES faced with paying premiums for trips during the school summer holidays urged a Harrow policitian to help them keep their kids in class.
Parents of children at the 510-strong Norbury School in Welldon Crescent, Harrow, spoke to Gareth Thomas (pictured), Labour MP for Harrow West, at a question and answer session held on Friday to address how to tackle pupils' unauthorised absenteeism.
Headteacher Lou Browning said: "We invited Gareth to talk to some of the parents and pupils about some of the challenges that having a rich, multi-cultural catchment area has in terms of attendance.
"The majority of families have their extended family overseas and if the relatives are ill, they have to go, and it takes weeks rather than just a day or a few days.
"They also take holidays during term time because holidays are more expensive during school holidays.
"Parents are 100 per cent behind the school but I have them sitting in my office in tears. Parents are torn. There's no other word for it.
"I don't think we're unique but the governing body felt it was taking up a lot of my time and decided to invite Gareth in."
The MP also met the school council, known as Team Norbury, and the Parent Council For Learning, to discuss the barriers to everyday attendance.
Ms Browning added: "We have written to Ofsted about this as well because part of the inspection is about absenteeism and although we work hard to persuade parents to keep their children in school, we feel we are being penalised."
Mr Thomas is going to keep in touch with a few families in order to pursue the matters and will write to Ms Browning to update her on progress.