A PARENT has accused her daughter's school of overstepping the mark after she was asked to delay a party which is being held the night before a week of tests.
Tina Adams, of Palmerston Park, Tiverton, has organised the two-hour Grease-themed event to celebrate Roisin's 13th birthday on Sunday.
Friends of her younger daughter, Niamh, 11, from Castle primary and St John's Roman Catholic School have also been invited.
But the event, which is due to end at 9.30pm, is the night before a week of SATS exams at the schools.
Miss Adams, 50, says that when teachers heard about the party they asked Niamh to leave the lunch hall, then quizzed her about who was going to the party and how long it was going on for.
She then received a letter from the school's head, Kathy Noble, suggesting that the timing of the party was inappropriate.
"They are blowing the whole thing out of proportion," said Miss Adams, a housing officer for South Somerset District Council.
"I am a responsible parent and said to other parents that if they didn't want their children to come, or if they wanted to pick them up early, then I wouldn't be offended.
"But I feel very strongly that this is a parental matter and not something the school should get involved in. The kids have worked extremely hard for these tests and there's nothing wrong with a bit of rest and fun to let their hair down – it might even improve their performance.
"Now Niamh is upset about it and thinks we've done something wrong."
She said she was determined to press ahead with the party, which will be held at Moorhayes Community Centre.
"The teachers are worried about SAT results, which are more about the school's reputation than anything else," she said.
"When Niamh was taken out of lunch and asked who was going she didn't know what to say, she told me she was so embarrassed she went red in the face."
Miss Adams has also pointed out grammatical errors made in the head's letter, which has several apostrophes in the wrong place and a lower case letter at the start of a sentence.
"I have just heard a little bit of gossip I am hoping is not true!" the head writes.
"I am told that Niamh is having a joint birthday party with her brother? on Sunday 12th May with a disco etc until 9.30am. Are you aware this is the evening before the children in Yr 6 start their SAT's?
"I know we can't choose the birth time of our kids, I have two of my own. However, I am aware some of the children invited to the party will not be attending as it is SATs the next day and their parent's feel a 9.30 end is too late. This is an important time for Niamh and the other children to show their work from seven years at school.
"Does this have to happen at the week end? Could it not be 5 days later?"
Mrs Noble said she was concerned about the party and had merely suggested another date might be more suitable.
"SATs are the culmination of our pupils' primary education and I wanted to make absolutely sure that the family were aware these important exams begin the next day. They can then make their own choices based on all the information," she said.