Rush Green head given time off school to compete in Australian duathlon

Simon Abeledo

Simon Abeledo - Credit: Archant

Parents have blasted a Dagenham headteacher for being allowed time off school to compete in an Australian duathlon.

Paul Simon Abeledo, of Rush Green Primary School, in Dagenham Road, has been given five days of unpaid leave to take part in the 2015 Adelaide ITU Duathlon World Championships this weekend.

Last year the Post revealed how the 45-year-old took part in an Austrian triathlon during term-time, triggering the launch of an independent investigation by the school’s governors.

“It’s disgraceful,” said a mum with two children at the school, who asked to remain anonymous.

“If any of us had taken our children out of school like that we’d have been given a fine, but with this we actually received a letter from the governors asking us to support the head in his competition.

“It’s an important year for my children, but when we asked how long he would be off for nobody at the school could tell us.”

A newsletter signed by the governors was sent home to parents last Friday informing them of the head’s movements, sparking angry responses.

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Last month it was reported that a record number of parents in Barking and Dagenham were taken to court because of their children’s poor attendance in the last school year.

Most of the 120 cases resulted in fines or conditional discharges while some were ordered to do unpaid work, electronically tagged or given overnight home curfews.

But Rush Green Primary’s chair of governors David Hodge described Mr Abeledo as an “inspirational leader” and admitted he was given unanimous approval to take five days’ unpaid leave.

“The request was deliberated in line with the school’s attendance policy upon which all applications of leave are considered,” he said.

“A unanimous decision was made in consideration of the headteacher having made it clear from the outset of his employment with the school that he would sometimes require unpaid leave to represent the country.

“As with all requests, the application was judged against the nature of and reason for the absence as well as his otherwise good attendance record.”

The athlete, who has been in charge at the school since 2013, also took part in the Pontevedra ITU Duathlon World Championships in Spain during the May half-term last year, as well as the Horst ETU Powerman Long Distance and Sprint Duathlon European Champions in the Netherlands during the Easter holidays in April 2014.

“The school has kept pupils and parents informed of the headteacher’s participation in this championship event and information was shared in a recent newsletter,” added Mr Hodge.

“Support and responses to the news have been overwhelmingly positive and we wish him every success as he represents our country in an extremely physical event.

“It is an inspiration to the whole school and encourages pupils to be more active and to strive to succeed.”

Are you a parent or teacher at Rush Green Primary School? Send you views to or call 020 8477 3824.