Strictest school rules ever? Parents slam ‘crazy’ new policy as ‘pupils punished for tapping tables and wearing shiny shoes’
Parents have branded a school’s new behaviour policy “absolutely crazy” after several pupils were excluded for seemingly bizarre reasons.
Fuming parents say the Bristol school’s new ‘Behaviour for Learning’ has led to their children being removed from classes for tapping tables, looking at the clock, having shoes which are too shiny and a headband that was ‘too bright.’
Students have also been made to wear lanyards stating “I have 24 hours to sort out my uniform” if they are not dressed properly for the school day.
One parent even said she was worried about her son’s education after he was apparently excluded until Monday for shushing someone in class, tapping his pen on the table and refusing to go to isolation.
Parent Petula Peacock said the enforcement of the rules had become “absolutely crazy” since Merchant’s Academy in Withywood introduced the policy on Monday, July 10.
She said her son Oliver was excluded until Monday, allegedly for shushing someone in class, tapping his pen on the table and refusing to go to isolation.
According to the new rules, refusal to complete isolation will result in external exclusion, defiance leads to automatic isolation for five lessons including lunch, break and 15 minutes after school, while a single warning could result in a detention.
Mrs Peacock told the Bristol Post : “Is it really fair? He’s missing important lessons. I only received a text about him being in isolation, no explanation.
“I’m a good parent and my kids are good kids. I’m offended that (the headmaster) would label me as someone who might cause trouble.
“I’m worried about my child’s education.”
Rumours circulated amongst parents that as many as 100 students were in isolation at one point this week, but headteacher Nick Short refuted those claims profusely, although he did admit the school had seen “slightly more” children in isolation since the rule change.
The ‘Behaviour for Learning’ framework was first developed in 2004 with the aim of promoting learning and managing behaviour through engagement, access and participation.
The complex 17-page policy is viewable on Merchant’s Academy’s website. It reads: “Good behaviour is essential to the effective operation of our Academy, without it, students are not able to make outstanding progress in their learning as teachers are not able to teach effectively.”
It adds that “students should walk around the buildings keeping to the left on corridors and enter classrooms in a quiet and sensible manner”.
One student was reportedly sent to isolation for wearing shoes which were too shiny, another allegedly had a pair of shoes which were too small forced upon him when his own were not deemed to meet requirements, while another parent complained their child had been shamed for wearing a brightly coloured headband.
Amanda J Cawston raised concerns about the policy and wrote online: “It appear’s the punishments are rather harsh & don’t really fit the ‘crime’.
“It’s also a possibility that a parent might only be able to afford the black shiny shoes in Primark as opposed to the proper school shoes in Clarks which although are nice are generally beyond the pocket of most parents.”
Geoff Brodie wrote: “Isn’t this what the nazi party did. Making people wear signs?? You would have thought that the school would have had a history teacher to point this out to them.”
Another said: ”It’s bizarre. He’s made it the strictest school in Britain.”
However others defended it and said rules needed to be obeyed.
Helen Sharpe wrote: “To many wishy washy parents now a days have resulted in a generation of self entitled teens who think the rules don’t apply to them and they are able to do what they like without consequence.”
And Jenna Anderson wrote: “The start of a sea change. This is working incredibly effectively across Bristol.
“I look forward to the pupils and teachers reaping the rewards of this policy once the first couple of weeks’ worth of teething issues are worked through.”
As per the school’s new regulations, students have been made to wear lanyards stating “I have 24 hours to sort out my uniform” if they are not dressed properly for the school day.
The school claims this measure is to make every member of staff aware of the issue from the outset so they do not have to approach the pupil themselves.
The academy’s separate strict and detailed uniform policy is outlined on its website, banning decorative attachments to headwear and stating slides and clips should be minimal and not fashion items, while shoes must be black, plain and polishable.
In a statement, headteacher Nick Short said: “Low level disruption in class is known to negatively affect the progress and attainment of students. As a result, Merchants’ Academy introduced a new Positive Behaviour policy, designed to minimise and remove low level disruption from lessons, allowing for higher levels of engagement and more progress to be made by all students.
“Extensive research and visits to other schools drew a conclusion ‘Ready to Learn’ was a policy which could be developed to benefit students at Merchants’ Academy.
“Parents and staff were then introduced to this policy through a range of communication methods which has included a number of assemblies and a range of parent events and drop-in sessions.”
“Since the new policy was implemented, staff and students are reporting much higher levels of engagement in class, with many students making more progress as a result of significantly lower levels of disruption.
“The number of students who have been isolated or excluded as a result of poor behaviour is much lower than predicted.
“The success of Ready to Learn has already been highlighted by many headteachers from across the Bristol area and I am pleased to report that the revised policy is already making a positive impact at Merchants’ Academy, where ensuring the progress of our students is a top priority.”
However, Mrs Peacock believes the punishments are being handed down willy-nilly since the rule change after she was told a student had been removed for reportedly looking at the clock.
She added: “I’m all for discipline when needed, and if the school has ever needed to discuss my son’s school day with me in the past, I have always supported them in their actions.
“But this new policy I strongly feel is having the wrong impact on our children.”
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