Parents slam school's 'military camp' rules with kids punished for drinking fizzy drinks, shouting & rolling their eyes

PARENTS have slammed a school's "military camp" rules where kids are punished for drinking fizzy drinks, shouting, and rolling their eyes.

Teachers at St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy in Bedlington, Northumberland, are said to give schoolkids automatic detentions for submitting "poor quality homework" and forgetting their sports kit.

The school has a "class chart" system where students get "points" for their good and bad behaviour.

But despite the system being in place for years, pupils will now need fewer negative points in order to get a detention.

The schoolkids will be sent to a 30-minute detention for drinking fizzy drinks, chewing gum, wearing makeup and being late to class.

Bad behaviour that leads to detentions also includes forgetting PE kits, shouting in corridors, inappropriate trousers, and eating in class.

And eye-rolling, poor work effort, and talking during silent time will land students a warning first, and a detention if the actions are repeated.

Melanie Burns, who has three children enrolled at the school, said that the rules don't take into account individual kids' needs.

She told ChronicleLive: "Both of my children in Year 11 have additional needs including Autism, ADHD and one also has a learning disability.

"It's scary sending my children into that school and not knowing if they will be punished for things which they can't help doing.

"I feel really disappointed and let down as a parent by the school's stance on how quickly they are giving out detentions to pupils for minor things.

"It's like I'm banging my head against a wall trying to get my kids what they need, which is better support and understanding for their individual needs.

"But instead it's like the school has become a military camp with these ridiculously strict rules and harsh punishments for not following them."

The mum, whose youngest child started at the school in September, said that her kids are "petrified" to go into classes because they're worried about stepping a foot out of line.

She added that her daughter burst into tears after getting a detention for wearing the wrong school schools – which the mum admits is her own fault, not her daughters.

Ms Burns added: "In my opinion, after the year the children have had dealing with the pandemic and school closures, they should be eased back into education, as many will have struggled with the change."

'RIDICULOUSLY STRICT'

Another parent Carman Straughan said she's paid £800 on school uniforms in total – including new trousers for her daughter because her old ones were "too tight" for the uniform rules.

She added: "I have a friend who works in Durham Prison and he told me that place as less rules than St Benet Biscop does.

"The fear of getting a detention hangs over my children, and it's destroying their mental health."

Gemma Priest, a parent whose son attended St Benet Biscop up until this week, said her 13-year-old son's mental health had been greatly affected by the class chart system.

She said: "As a parent you just want your son to be happy, and he hasn't been recently because he tells me he feels like everyone is always coming down on him at school and his head can't take it anymore.

"He's been in trouble for using his mobile phone to text me, for mouthing something to another child who was distracting him and forgetting his equipment.

"It feels like he can't make even the slightest mistake like forgetting his PE Kit without being dished out a detention, and it's impacted his mental state greatly."

A spokesperson for St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy said parents have been made aware of the school's expectations for the new school year in July.

Kevin Shepherd, headteacher at St Benet Biscop Catholic Academy, said in a statement: "In order to achieve our mission, our parents understand that our practice is embedded in the St Benet Biscop Way and in the core values of integrity and respect.

PARENTS' FURY

"It is expected that all members of our community follow the St Benet Biscop way. We accept no excuses.

"Whilst sometimes this may be challenging, we expect our students to live by our learning habits 100% of the time. These include no answering back, and perfect uniform because we want children at our school to be proud, and excellent uniform is a representation of our excellent culture.

"We insist on all homework being completed on time and to a good standard, neatly and with pride. We have a homework club twice a week and the Learning Resource Centre is available at break, lunch and every evening after school to help with homework.

"We also insist on punctuality to school and to each and every lesson, and that every child carries an appropriate school bag which can accommodate the resources needed for the school day. It is important that students are taught how to be organised and responsible.

"As a school community whose purpose is learning, staff time should be spent planning high quality lessons, guiding students and giving them feedback and communicating with parents regarding their child’s achievements, not discussing incidents where students have not followed our learning habits.

" Students are supported through our strong pastoral structure and by having clear expectations. We have a shared belief that everyone is equal, everyone matters and that learning should be engaging and enjoyable."

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