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Disabled children and their parents get 'lifeline' back as vandalised school reopens

Despite being trashed by vandals and forced to close for more than a week, the St Francis Special School in Fareham re-opened today thanks to the work of staff and volunteers.

Thousands of pounds of damage was caused during the break-in, with windows smashed, roof tiles ripped off, and graffiti on the walls.

It was the fourth time the school, described as a lifeline for many families, has been vandalised in months.

The headteacher says those responsible should return to the school to see the children who were so badly affected. Kerry Swain reports.

Council appealing against court decision to cancel dad's fine for taking child on holiday in term time

The Isle of Wight Council has started the formal process of appeal to the High Court, for clarification on a matter of law over unauthorised school absences and the fines imposed on parents.

The appeal comes after an Isle of Wight Magistrates’ Court decided that a father who had taken his child on holiday during term time had ‘no case to answer’. The man had failed to pay a fine imposed on him for taking his child out of school - it was deemed an 'unauthorised absence'.

Isle of Wight Magistrates' Court Credit: PA

“The recent media attention given to this case shows that there is interest, concern and, above all, uncertainty as to what constitutes ‘regular attendance’ for the purposes of the legislation in question. This is not a question that can be resolved by any local authority.

“The decision made by the magistrates was made on a point of law. The Isle of Wight Council has received clear advice that the magistrates may have failed to interpret and apply the law correctly in making their decision. Where the law created by Parliament is uncertain, the Appeal Courts have the ability to lay down a binding ruling as to the correct interpretation of the law.

"The Isle of Wight Council is of the view that, in light of the advice given, the importance of the issue and the need to obtain clarity, it would be appropriate to appeal the magistrates’ decision in this case in order to obtain a clear binding ruling as to what the law is on this issue. This will benefit parents and local authorities both on the Island and across the country, and may also inspire Parliament to look again at the legislation, which many feel they ought to.”

– Councillor Jonathan Bacon, Council leader and Executive member for children’s services

Jon Platt from the Isle of Wight won his case earlier this month. He had refused to pay a £120 fine for taking his 6-year-old daughter on holiday in term time.

  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

Plea from father of autistic girl

A father from Kent says his wife killed herself after the strain of looking after their autistic daughter became too much when they didn't get the help they wanted from social services.

Daniel Barnett's wife Carol had a history of depression and alcohol problems but, he says, the authorities should have done more for their daughter.

He wants Kent County Council to send her to a specialist residential school to help her develop - the council says she's better off at home. David Johns has the story.

And our next lesson in school is... wine making

Many schools have business classes nowadays but how about their own vineyard?

Well, pupils at Buckswood School outside Hastings are learning the science, production and art of wine making - and they've got their own vintage to prove it.

Andy Dickenson reports and speaks to head teacher Mark Redsell, pupils Tom Milne and Alexandria Roberts, and local winemaker Alex Carr-Taylor.

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