Strict disciplinary measures at a Lincolnshire school are damaging children’s mental health and education, according to some parents, the BBC has reported.
A campaign group has been set up to voice their concerns about the use of isolations and suspensions at King Edward VI Academy (KEVI) in Spilsby.
One parent said her child was reprimanded for her shoes being shiny.
A school spokesperson said positive reinforcement far outweighs any sanctions.
Gemma, whose daughter was suspended for going to the toilet without permission, despite having a medical pass, said she would “fully support a reasonable behaviour policy”.
However, she said: “Unfortunately, they [the school] take it beyond the realms of reasonable and it’s detrimental to the kids’ mental health.”
“It’s against basic human rights,” she said, adding: “She’s got a medical toilet pass for a reason.”
Guidance from the Department for Education allows schools to adopt a policy where disruptive pupils can be placed in isolation from other pupils for a limited period.
As with other disciplinary penalties, schools must act lawfully, reasonably and proportionately in all cases, the guidance says.
In June, Charlie and Emma started a social media group to find out if other families had concerns with the school’s use of sanctions.
Within a matter of weeks, they had 140 parents in the group telling their own stories.
“It did shock us – when you look at the number of children in the school there is a large amount of people who are unhappy,” Emma said.
“It’s just go out of the classroom to isolation – and that can’t be the answer every time,” she said.
“Seeing your children being broken down – you are sending them everyday to somewhere where you know they are going to have the worst day,” she added.
“And that’s horrible as a mum.”
Another parent, who did not wish to be identified, pulled her child out of school at the end of July.
She said uniform had been a constant problem, with her daughter being reprimanded for her shoes being “too shiny” and put into isolation for her trousers being too tight.
She claimed the school humiliated her daughter by giving her a pair of adult size 12 trousers to wear instead.
“She looked like a clown,” her mother said.
In another incident, she said her daughter was placed in isolation as a punishment for not completing her homework.
She said her daughter had weak eyesight and had been unable to read the “small” text on the worksheet.
“It angers me because it’s not a behavioural issue,” she added.
Some claimed that behavioural polices were being applied without any flexibility to children with special educational needs – despite educational care plans being in place.
Stephanie and Chris said their son, who has ADHD, did not receive the support he needed.
“Children with ADHD are challenging – I’m not going to say he’s not,” Stephanie said.
“However, he is very manageable given the right support and intervention.”
The couple moved their son to a different school in December.
Stephanie said while he was at KEVI he was “making himself physically vomit because his anxiety was through the roof.”
A former pupil at the school said isolation was for the “worst of the worst” behaviour when he first started.
However, he said: “Towards the end of Year 11 it was just where they put people because they felt like it.”
Almost 70 letters of complaint have been sent to the school, its governors and Ofsted by concerned parents.
Part of one letter read: “The school needs to stop concentrating on punishing students for very minor infringements.
“This is unrealistic, and so far removed from the real world they need to concentrate on de-escalating situations and press on [with] the very important job of educating our children.”
In a statement, a school spokesperson said: “We have high expectations for pupils’ behaviour and always seek to reward pupils’ good conduct, with positive reinforcement far outweighing any sanctions.
“At KEVI, we work hard to create a respectful and purposeful culture in which students can learn and reach their full potential.
“This begins at the start of the school day when pupils are met by staff and offered welfare support and replacement uniform if they have incorrect items.”
The school said suspensions were used “proportionally” to help keep the academy calm and safe, and as “behaviour has improved the number of these has fallen significantly”.
The spokesperson added feedback from parents was welcomed and said changes had been made in response, including stopping after-school detentions after families raised the issue of difficult transport links in the local community.
Original BBC article by David McKenna & Simon Spark can be found at: Parents say strict Spilsby school is breaching human rights – BBC News