Login Register

VIDEOS: Row erupts over Totnes college's discipline of pupils in school uniform dispute

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 18, 2012

KEVICC
Comments (0)

Parents have voiced their fury over a school's "draconian" punishment of children who protested over a school uniform row.

Pupils at King Edward V Community College in Totnes, South Devon, have had to spend up to two days working in isolation in a room known as "the bungalow" and have been barred from taking part in extra-curricular activities after they took part in a series of walk-outs and peaceful demonstrations, their parents said.

Some parents in the town, known for its artistic expression, say they are proud of their children's "courage" in highlighting their anger at "inadequate" consultation over introducing a school uniform from September.

Head teacher Kate Mason announced a uniform would be introduced in light of a report that Keviccs students were perceived as "scruffy".

She said the school hosted a consultation, and responses "clearly favoured" a uniform. She has said mediation has been offered to the parents.

But some parents say the consultation was inadequate and should be repeated, and say the school declined their condition of mediation that the punishments be suspended.

Kate Paxman kept her 14-year-old son at home on the two days he had been ordered to spend in "the bungalow", seen by parents as the most extreme form of punishment before expulsion. He also missed out on paintballing and entry into a national art competition which he had been put forward for as a merit.

"He's very down at the way the school's management is behaving," she said.

"I was overwhelmed and proud and quite amazed at how courageous both my children were in taking part in peaceful protest, a democratic raising of their voice against a school which wasn't listening. These punishments are draconian – it's absurd."

Hundreds of children took part in three protests two weeks ago. Their actions included walking out of class and holding a rally where a 14-year-old performed the protest song she had written, which she has recorded for YouTtube. They also hung home-made banners from a footbridge.

A school fire alarm was set off during one of the protests and police were called, but did not stop the demonstration. One mother, who did not want to be named, said the children were "broken" by the reaction.

"They are so demoralised and despairing that it breaks my heart. There's this horrible atmosphere of fear – amongst the teachers as well as the children."

Mik Wells, whose 14-year-old daughter was barred from activities including Duke of Edinburgh Award training days this week, said the school reacted "emotionally" at a "perceived loss of control". He said they should have engaged with the children.

Devon County Council has said the matter was an issue for governors, who were due to meet last night.

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters
  • GSH82  |  July 30 2012, 10:29PM

    @ SmartyC If you want to read some common sense, there's plenty at http://tinyurl.com/c833th9

    Rate   1
    Report
  • yorkshireone  |  July 23 2012, 3:00PM

    @ henryblinc........My spelling and grammer might not be perfect but when you have had to struggle all your life with dyslexia, I think I do a pretty damn good job!!!!!!! And for that I will not apologise over slight mispellings and grammer. And anyway what does spelling and grammer have anything to do with school uniforms, which I think was the subject in the first place.

    Rate   3
    Report
  • SmartyC  |  July 20 2012, 5:05PM

    Nothing "legalistic" about it, just good old common sense. Seems to be a lot less of it around these days...

    Rate   3
    Report
  • GSH82  |  July 20 2012, 1:30PM

    @ SmartyC I can't help wondering if a similar legalistic attitude is at the root of the current crisis.

    Rate   -5
    Report
  • SmartyC  |  July 20 2012, 12:09PM

    *****Labelling protesting students as truants is ludicrous and it's also below the belt. It only serves to derail the issue and compound the problem. In a letter to Parents & Carers on the 3rd July 2012, the principal suggested that 'a number of other students joined in with the protest as an opportunity to miss lessons and mess around.' Isn't it irresponsible to make allegations like that, particularly in view of the likely degree of difficulty in substantiating such allegations ?**** Firstly you are naive indeed if you think that children won't seize an opportunity like this to "miss lessons and mess around", whatever their views, if any, on the subject. It's what children do, they're children. Also not being in class without permission is in fact the very definition of truancy, to call it so is as far from "ludicrous" as you can get. Secondly, there is a huge difference between listening to children's views, and doing what the children want. Just because they're not doing what some children want doesn't necessarily mean they aren't listening. The children do not run the school, the teachers and management do. If those teachers and management decide that a school uniform is appropriate then that is what happens. Suggesting that children's views in matters such as this should take priority is patently ridiculous. What next, let the children decide the time table? I'm sure they'd all love to start at 11am and finish at 2pm, just as they don't want to wear a school uniform. And who can blame them? Which is precisely why they don't get the final say in such matters. To suggest that they should is a nonsense.

    Rate   7
    Report
  • GSH82  |  July 19 2012, 11:59PM

    On the surface, this might seem to be just a school discipline issue, but I can't help thinking there's more to it. Could it be that imposing a uniform policy is just papering over the cracks of what might actually be a much deeper issue ? This situation is a PR disaster waiting to happen, and has already resulted in publicity which reflects very negatively on the management of the school. I hope for the sake of the school, and anyone else who cares about the place that it's not already too late. The school website says, "Our students are at the centre of all we do; we listen to them and learn from them." However recent events appear to contradict this. It seems that the school asked students what they thought, but reintroduced the uniform regardless and then cried foul when there were protests against it. It has been suggested that the consultation process was unfair, and students have complained that they were not listened to during the consultation. This seems completely at odds with the suggestion that the school listens to students. There is a saying that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but past experience has shown that this doesn't necessarily apply to schools. If you want an example, you only need to look a short distance along Ashburton Road and remember what happened to the former Dartington Hall School in the early 1980s. The appointment of Dr Lynn Blackshaw and the way he offended students' sense of fair play was the beginning of the end. The rest is history. It would be ironic and indeed tragic if history were to repeat itself at KEVICC. Labelling protesting students as truants is ludicrous and it's also below the belt. It only serves to derail the issue and compound the problem. In a letter to Parents & Carers on the 3rd July 2012, the principal suggested that 'a number of other students joined in with the protest as an opportunity to miss lessons and mess around.' Isn't it irresponsible to make allegations like that, particularly in view of the likely degree of difficulty in substantiating such allegations ? Today's BBC news article about the school says, "School governors had previously said that the uniform policy would be reviewed in 2015." Does this mean the uniform policy been changed 3 years early ? Is it some sort of policy U turn, or did the school really have no intention of waiting until 2015 before reviewing the situation ? I had hoped to send this as an email to the school but the email links on the school website are not working at the time of writing (early evening, 19 July)

    Rate   -5
    Report
  • Nippie  |  July 19 2012, 7:04PM

    Peaceful protest? Peaceful? It sounded anything but to me, shouting, screaming and letting off the fire alarm. What a lot of silly, disrespectful sheep. So pleased none of my family went to Keviccs. There should be no need for "consultation", the Headmasters decision should be final.

    Rate   10
    Report
  • realityzone  |  July 19 2012, 6:28PM

    The interviews are interesting, questions predicated to get the right reply, no worth whole challenge to their views, and one interviewed who disagrees with the kids. What's happened to journalism have all the real reporters been transported to another planet or what?

    Rate   2
    Report
  • Totmum  |  July 19 2012, 5:10PM

    F.A.O 'henryblince' You do not represent yourself or the minority well! You pick at 'yorkshireone's' use of language and spelling and try (loosely and sarcastically) to make a connection between the wearing of an uniform in schools, work etc. with the level of education/knowledge achieved. No, no, no. Oh dear! However, yorkshireone got something VERY right. "...and no respect, they need to be taught manners...." Oh yes, I just want to point out that apparently one student formerly of KEVICC's will now be joining Churston Grammar. I think you'll find they have a VERY smart uniform in place.

    Rate   -4
    Report
  • henryblince  |  July 19 2012, 4:30PM

    *foul* language not "fowl" and *from* them, not "off" them. You obviously didn't do spelling or grammar when you were in your school uniform. Did you do irony?

    Rate   8
    Report

      YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

       
       

      MORE NEWS HEADLINES

       
       
       

      MOST POPULAR