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Social media uproar over conduct at King’s Lynn primary school

todayDecember 16, 2020 30

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Parents and teachers at a Gaywood primary school have been at loggerheads after punishments issued to children caused a social media uproar.

Posts on Facebook denouncing Howard Junior School ‘s actions went viral – with staff shocked by the vitriolic and ‘unpleasant’ nature of some of the comments.

Because of the toxicity of the online response the school has now withdrawn all punishments but parents have said they are still far from happy.

Howard Junior School.. (43597904)
Howard Junior School.. (43597904)

One furious mother – among many parents to have contacted the Lynn News this week on the subject – said that has decided to move her children to another school after ongoing issues reached a head when pupils were sent home with notes saying they had been withdrawn from Christmas activities.

Her daughter was one of many students who were not allowed to partake in Christmas jumper day, games day or the pantomime for being behind in reading or having unsigned homework diaries.

Laila-Jade Groom said: “I’d understand if my child was naughty, but for not signing a reading book, it seems like an inappropriate punishment. It’s not the first time, they’ve also forgotten to feed my son and my daughter has gone all day without water.”

John Whatley, whose daughter is a student at the school, said: “Christmas should be about celebrating but now my daughter is being punished for something they claim she hasn’t done. Children from my daughter’s class are also coming home saying that their teacher swears at them.”

Stefanie Watling, whose son is a student at the school, said: “This how Howard Junior School thinks it’s acceptable to punish their students! This is not the first problem we’ve had with this school but nothing seems to get done about it!”

One parent has issued a formal complaint to Ofsted and Norfolk County Council over conduct at the school following the punishments issued last week.

Hannah Geary, parent to two children at the school, said: “I have been becoming increasingly concerned over recent events at the school. I am not very happy with the way my children are being treated.”

Her complaint details instances where children are being told to use hand sanitiser instead of washing their hands, with some sinks being taped off. “While hand sanitizer is good in some instances preventing the children from washing their hands is appalling,” she said.

She describes how her son leaves school desperate for the toilet each day because he is not allowed access to where the toilets are on his route out of school.

She added: “These punishments are extreme and are only fuelling an already horrendous year that our children have already endured. I do not wish to turn this into a witch hunt but I feel that my children along with all the others need a voice. If only to stop them being mentally scarred by their first few years in an education setting. The school is run is more like a prison camp than a normal school.”

The Lynn News has seen a letter issued to parents from headmaster Gregory Hill and his staff said: “Sadly, a very small amount of parents have objected to their child being withdrawn from certain treats, even though they have not earned them. Disappointingly, also a very small amount of parents have taken to social media and made some unpleasant comments towards staff.

“Howard has always gone above and beyond with educational experiences and we hope parents appreciate the extra support we always give.”

The letter also retracted the earlier punishment that had been sent out to students. “We decided to send out letters to withdraw some very minor rewards from pupils who haven’t participated in all our schemes.

“However, some letters were sent out in error and with the wrong activities withdrawn, for which I am sorry if this has caused anyone distress. We are therefore cancelling all the letters and reinstating all of the activities.”

After receiving the letter from Howard Junior School, Laila-Jade Groom said: “This is still unacceptable.”

This is not the first time Howard has faced opposition from parents over its policies. Parents were up in arms in 2017 when .parents were banned from sports day for “aggressive” behaviour.

The Lynn News reached out to Howard Junior School for a comment but has heard nothing, the letter was supplied by parents.

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