Was school right to refuse Oliver time off for filming?

Well, this got you talking...

Monday, 19th September 2016, 12:03 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:31 pm
Nine-year-old Oliver McGonigle outside the Holy Family Catholic Primary School

When a young budding actor requested two days off from his primary school to film a TV commercial, his school refused.

Oliver McGonigle’s casting agency failed to get a licence for him – so his headteacher at Holy Family Primary declined his request.

Oliver’s mother then complained that he was being unfairly treated and has threatened to move her son to a new school.

It sparked many comments on our website and Facebook page – with many failing to agree over whether the school should have allowed him to go.

Some posters, using their own profiles, suggested the mum should have told the school he was ill and gone anyway. We’re sure the school inspectors will be taking a keen interest in those comments in particular!

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Here are your comments:

Rules are rules, break them, pay the price

Dyfan Whike

Should have done what the rest of us do, thrown a sick day. Sad that it has come to it. I hate this not allowing time off for anything but to be fair it’s not the school it’s the Government.


The never ending quest for fame and fortune raises it’s head again.

While I have nothing against any one persuing their dreams, the current and growing trend to be famous....to be a star.......to be adored.....to be seen by millions is becoming a disease within society.

The media is full of pouting, perfect looking people who will sell their souls to be famous.

It’s a very sad state of affairs and it is leading to a generation of narcissistic individuals who see being in the limelight as their aim in life.


Why should the lad’s education become the second consideration? Why can’t the TV ad company perform the filming over a weekend or the forthcoming half term break?

Charlie Bubbles

Once you change the rules for one...

Geoff Kay

The school was right to refuse

Stephen Santi

At the end of the day we have to work with the school to ensure thestudent is getting the right education, they aren’t behind on any work and where possible ask for a later casting time (which isn’t always possible)

Little Allstars Casting, the agency used by Oliver’s family

As the agent you didn’t do a very good job did you? The school is quite right to say no in any case. Recently returning from a six week break then asking for yet another two days off for a jolly down to London is ridiculous.


This is not a holiday for the boy; it is an opportunity to develop acting skills. Education cannot progress while those running the schools are unable to distinguish between furthering one’s education and absenteeism.

Captain Pedantic

As a parent of two children at this school I personally believe that this whole saga has been exacerbated by the family in an attempt to shed poor light on the school while fundamentally ostracising the child in the process.

Sally Gregory

The child would have gained experience in a proper workplace doing something which earns real money. That would have been invaluable for the child and something he could have put on a CV in future years


So the young boy couldn’t afford the time off to follow his dreams but inset days and days when teachers go on strike are OK?

North Shore Hostage

He should have been allowed the time off as it was educational and could help to a future career.

I would also suggest two days off for a nine year old is not going to destroy his formal education.

Peter Allen-Rogers

I dont get why they didn’t just take him? It would go down as unathorised but so what?

Leigh Ryan

My child would have missed two days of school to film the commercial and no, I wouldn’t be paying any fine either..

Claire Whitehall

My daughter had lots of time off from her high school back in the late 90s to record Coronation Street, Emmerdale, and lots of other programmes. She left with 10 GCSEs and went on to do a three-year performing arts degree. And did make a very good life for herself.

Sharon Denby

Learning and education does not just take place in a classroom and he will learn a great deal from that experience and learn new skills.

Maria Barrick

I have to agree with the headteacher. Also ‘acting’ is not a proper job, even if he’s lucky he’ll only get a bit part on Hollyoaks for a couple of years and then it’s a life of struggling to get Panto roles.

Bumble Beard

This really isn’t a hard concept to grasp. If one pupil takes time off while everyone else is still in school, time and resources have to be spent to bring that one pupil back up to speed with the rest of the class.

If the entire school has time off, no one misses anything because there was nothing to be missed.

I know this is mind boggling to some but there you go.


Could they not have squeezed it in to the 6/7 weeks they’ve just had off?

Kris Hamilton

Just a little tip, tonsilitis is a great illness for kids to have if they need a couple of days off. You’re welcome...

Nicola Clarkson

Good luck son and all credit to you for trying to make a career for yourself.


I have nothing but amazing things to say about this school and the way it is run. My child loves going here and she is thriving.

Tracy Smart