Parents and school at war over ‘strict’ rules: Chaos at gates as mother says daughter refuses to DRINK so she doesn’t fall victim to new toilet break crackdown – but head blames mums and dads for whipping up unrest on Facebook
- Students at Camborne Academy protested against the school’s ‘harsh’ rules
- Pupils were filmed chanting ‘school is s**t’ over the academy’s ‘prison’ rules
Angry parents have slammed a ‘prison’ school’s strict new rules on toilet breaks and lateness, with one mother saying her daughter has stopped drinking during the school day to avoid having to use the toilet.
A protest was launched over ‘harsh’ rules at Camborne Science and International Academy in Cornwall after children were thrown out of lessons for being just two minutes late – leading to angry scenes when the police were called.
Parents have said pupils are put in ‘reflection’ for minor infractions including yawning, going to the toilet and having laddered tights – which is ‘having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing’ as they return from school ‘crying every night’.
One mother said: ‘The toilet issue – my daughter is not drinking, and my son, because she can’t time when she needs to go to the toilet.’
Videos posted on TikTok show pupils climbing school fences to join the protest and chanting ‘school is s**t’ in opposition to the new rules.
Police were later called to the students’ revolt as the academy’s headteacher said the rules are ‘vital’ for the school’s ‘wellbeing and success’.
Headteacher Emma Haase told MailOnline that Facebook groups had fuelled miscommunications and inaccuracies which led to the disruption outside the school.
Parents gathered outside the school as police attended the protest at Camborne Academy
Angry parents have slammed ‘prison’ school’s strict new rules on toilet breaks and lateness, with one mother (pictured) saying her daughter has stopped drinking during the school day to avoid having to use the toilet
A mother whose child has stopped drinking during school hours said there is ‘no way’ pupils can use the toilets during break and lunch as per the school’s rules.
She said there are not enough toilets for the 1,800 pupils, especially while the school is locking some of them and only allowing one child in at a time.
Headteacher Emma Haase (pictured) told MailOnline that Facebook groups had fuelled miscommunications and inaccuracies which led to the disruption outside the school
Pupils have to explain why they need to use the toilet if they go during lessons, and the mother said this could be difficult for them, particularly girls who are starting their periods.
She added that policies under the previous headteacher were ‘fair and consistent across the board’.
Another mother said children with special educational needs ‘don’t feel like they’ve got support’.
‘There’s been a few children that have asked for support, actively gone to their year office and said “I’m struggling, I don’t feel like I can go to class, I’m very anxious”, things like that, and they are being forced by teachers to go to class or go to reflection,’ she added.
A third mother adds: ‘My daughter comes home crying every night, because she can’t cope with it.’
‘It’s definitely having a negative impact on their mental wellbeing,’ a fourth mother who is stood outside the school says.
READ MORE: How Covid has let parents think school is optional: Children are being kept off because they are ‘too anxious’ for lessons or because ‘life’s too short’ – as report blames pandemic for breakdown between families and teachers
According to a recent report, lockdowns have caused a ‘seismic shift’ in parents’ attitudes to school attendance, with it now ‘socially acceptable’ to keep pupils at home and go on holiday in term-time.
Research by consultancy Public First suggests that pandemic closures and teacher strikes have damaged the social contract between schools and families, with 24,700 children missing education on one sample day in spring this year.
More children are also being home-schooled than ever. Official figures show that 86,000 children in England were home-schooled on one day this year – and 116,300 are home-schooled full time. Both are steep increases of up to 50 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.
Videos posted on TikTok showed dozens of students marching through Camborne Academy as parents gathered outside the gates in a protest which was reportedly organised over social media.
A caption on one video reads: ‘POV your school had a protest bc of the school becoming a prison with gates locked everyday.’
Pupils and parents launched a protest following complaints the school had become a ‘prison’
Pupils were filmed storming out the academy chanting ‘school is s***’ in protest against the rules
Videos show pupils gathered at the gates of Camborne Science and International Academy
The mother of one pupil told the BBC her son was ‘crying because we had car trouble and it was literally breaking his heart as he was afraid about getting… suspended’ for being late.
Another mother complained the school’s rules are enforced on a blanket basis, with no distinction between minor infractions and more serious breaches of the rules.
‘It’s the way they’re being enforced, there is no distinction between being two minutes late to class, literally two minutes late, and throwing a chair,’ the mother said.
Parents said students have been left feeling anxious by the school’s ‘military-style’ approach to bad behaviour and the ‘severe’ punishments being handed out, according to Cornwall Live.
They claimed children are now being given daily detentions for wearing trousers that were previously deemed appropriate and being reprimanded for taking their blazers off during the heatwave or failing to have a clear pencil case.
Parents also said children were punished for small infractions including yawning and for failure to pay enough attention in class.
In ‘reflection’, students are expected to copy lines out of textbooks for two entire lesson periods – without stopping for lunch, a glass of water, or a toilet break.
If students fail to complete the ‘reflection’ detentions they are then suspended, parents claim.
Students and parents launched a protest against ‘harsh’ rules at Camborne Academy in Cornwall
The protests come as parents have raised concerns the academy in Cornwall may join the controversial Athena Learning Trust, which is known for its strict rules and its use of ‘reflection’ to enforce them.
Headteacher Emma Haase said it is vital for the school’s wellbeing that behavioural incidents are kept to a minimum, as she urged concerned parents to contact the school directly.
She told MailOnline: ‘We can confirm that CSIA staff made the decision to call the police to our premises yesterday to help manage a difficult and disappointing incident at the school initiated by a small number of students and their parents who deliberately intended to disrupt the smooth running of the school day.
‘As always, our primary focus remains supporting the education, wellbeing and safety of our students and staff.
‘Sadly, staff have received abuse from parents and their children on a number of occasions and this behaviour cannot be tolerated.
‘We understand that there are strong feelings within the community and we are aware of a number of Facebook groups that have fuelled miscommunications and inaccuracies.
‘We would like to reiterate that there has been no changes to school rules that would warrant this type of disruption.
‘Our habits for life: punctuality, uniform, organisation, and disruption-free learning are fair, well-established and understood school rules.
‘Students know what is expected of them and it is the responsibility of parents, carers, students and the school to work together to ensure a good example is being set and that we are behaving appropriately as a community.’
A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘Officers were made aware of a protest at Camborne Science and International Academy involving pupils taking place on school grounds on Wednesday, September 20.
‘Local officers attended to speak with the school to give advice on ensuring that the protest remained safe. This is a school matter and there are no follow-up matters for the police in relation to this.’
Headteacher’s full statement:
Headteacher at Camborne Science and International Academy, Emma Haase said: ‘We can confirm that CSIA staff made the decision to call the police to our premises yesterday to help manage a difficult and disappointing incident at the school initiated by a small number of students and their parents who deliberately intended to disrupt the smooth running of the school day.
‘As always, our primary focus remains supporting the education, wellbeing and safety of our students and staff. Sadly, staff have received abuse from Parents and their children on a number of occasions and this behaviour cannot be tolerated.
‘We understand that there are strong feelings within the community and we are aware of a number of Facebook groups that have fuelled miscommunications and inaccuracies. We would like to reiterate that there has been no changes to school rules that would warrant this type of disruption.
‘Our Habits for life: punctuality, uniform, organisation, and disruption free learning are fair, well-established and understood school rules. All students know what is expected of them and it is the responsibility of parents, carers, students and the school to work together to ensure a good example is being set and that we are behaving appropriately as a community. Additional measures are in place to support the students in meeting the expectations such as free uniform to borrow, equipment available and additional bells to help students to be punctual. These measures have been communicated to students and their families.
‘Whilst yesterday was disappointing, I have every confidence that our community will pull together and move forward in a positive and constructive way. Today has been a normal, calm and productive school day.
‘We would actively discourage parents and media outlets against speculation and disruptive conversation and communications, and would instead encourage parents and carers to contact the academy directly through the usual channels to address concerns about both individual cases and wider policy. The senior team are already meeting with families to help resolve any misunderstandings and we urge Parents and Carers to contact the school if they have not done so already.
‘We would also like to state that regular operations continued today including lunch and afterschool clubs. We appreciate the support offered by the vast majority of our parents.’
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