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New "expectations" and "interventions" introduced at KCC have split opinion

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New "expectations" and "interventions" introduced at KCC have split opinion

Policies recently introduced at Kingsbridge Community College to improve standards have split the opinion of parents.

KCC has recently implemented a focus on three things - uniform, punctuality and equipment. These three areas are being backed up with “interventions”, half-an-hour sessions after the end of school for pupils.

Some parents are calling these interventions disproportionate while the school is saying they are there to support the pupils and not to punish them.

One part of the uniform focus that has caused friction is the enforcement of wearing blazers on the school grounds, while moving between lessons and at break and lunchtimes.

Sophie contacted us to say: “The uniform issue came to a head last week, when temperatures were higher than 25 degrees and children were being punished for removing their blazers. Enough parents complained that it was decided that a 'blazer day' would be decided by temperature, and coincidentally, despite today being well above 20 degrees, children had to wear blazers.

“The children who have removed them today have been kept behind at school, whilst the usual suspects will be going home at the normal time despite probably not wearing any of the much disputed uniform, and behaving aggressively and disruptively all day.”

A spokesperson for Kingsbridge Community College said that with regards to the blazers, the school “always listen to the staff, parents and pupil voice” and said that if the forecast was for a hot day, it would be a ‘non-blazer day’ and pupils could leave their blazers at home.

They said: “Pupils do not have to wear their blazers in lessons, and we make a decision in the morning and inform students parents and carers if it is a non-blazer day.

“Some parents are asking for a rule on when they will be but there are difficulties with making a binary decision such as setting a temperature for the weather to reach. For example you could have a thermometer in your house, one in your car and one at school and they could read different temperatures. Also we could have a day of 22C with a breeze or a day of 16C when it's still and sunny, and the feel could be the same.

“We are also aware that we are dealing with teenagers going through puberty, which can cause temperature changes, and this is something we could use exemption cards for. We have contacted or will contact all the families who have raised these kinds of issues and will work with them to see how we can help.”

The current intervention system has been implemented by the school to encourage being “ready to learn” when they arrive in their lessons. This means being on time and having the correct equipment for the class.

Parents are calling the giving out of interventions for things like not having a pen or forgetting/losing their planner “disproportionate” and are worried that while pupils who have never been in trouble at school are becoming stressed and anxious about receiving interventions, pupils with more challenging behavioural issues are not being addressed in the same way.

The spokesperson said that the college “provides support in a number of ways before any intervention is given” and reiterated that interventions were not to punish pupils and were there to ensure that any obstacles they were facing to making sure they were fully equipped for lessons were quickly overcome.

The spokesperson continued, saying: “We have had a ‘soft launch’ of these expectations, with explanation assemblies and two weeks of these expectations being enforced without the back up of interventions, so pupils are fully informed.

“We want to raise standards at the school and we are focussing on these three things, uniform, punctuality and equipment as a starting point.

“We have discussed with our students ‘Every Minute Matters’. We know that if a pupil is five minutes late to every lesson, that is 19 days of their education lost every year and students who miss that much tend to have results one grade lower than if they did not.

“Teachers are being taken away from teaching when they’re having to deal with late pupils or providing pens or equipment for students.

“We have a shop that is open between 8.30am and the end of tutor periods at 9.20am for students to buy any equipment they have forgotten or lost and make sure they are ready for the day. If families are on free school meals then that equipment is free.”

Some parents we have spoken to have pointed out that the shop being open until 9.20am doesn’t help children who lose equipment during the day or those who don’t bring money to school.

The spokesperson added: “The shop needs to be staffed and whilst we provide this each morning for 50 minutes we want staff to be supporting learning later in the day and we are promoting students to be responsible for their essential equipment. Staff will always support any student throughout the day wherever they can.”

Talking about punctuality, parents have said that their children are being given interventions after being late to lessons due to having to queue to use the toilets, with one parent saying “Government policy is for schools to have one toilet per 20 pupils, but KCC has 1 per 50 and there are often queues”.

The spokesperson responded by saying that the ratio of toilets to pupils was inaccurate and that “all students have time during lesson transition to go to the toilet or students can be registered and then ask permission to go to the toilet and staff will sign their planners to give them permission.

“This is particularly important as girls learn to navigate their menstrual cycle. Parents are also welcome to add a note into their child’s planner to support this. We also issue support passes for individual cases where additional support is needed. We want to support any student who requests these and will work with families.

"This is a topic that has been highlighted in student assemblies and our PSHE [Personal, Social and Health Education] curriculum.”

Sophie continued: “On a day-to-day basis, I'm sure KCC is no worse or better than any other modern school, and faces all of the same challenges with behaviour, attendance, drugs etc. However, my problem is the way they act as though they do not, and will focus on 'improvements' that are arguably easiest to deal with, than the actual fundamentals of education.

“While I would certainly not believe every word my child says, as quite a mild mannered pupil, he comes home genuinely shocked some days at the behaviour in his classes and in the communal areas, witnessing older pupils attempting to physically get out of the school with teachers pursuing, toilets persistently being badly vandalised, and many students simply wandering the corridors after being kicked out of lessons or just getting up and walking out.

“To me, a former pupil, I find this very sad.

“There is always bad behaviour in schools, that is just the nature of a large group, but the absolute lack of discipline means that the perpetrators keep perpetrating, and the rest of the kids keep suffering. To add to this situation, the school has decided that their actual focus should instead be on uniform, punctuality, and 'being prepared', with parents being forced to sign a Positive Culture agreement form.

“No one can argue with the sense here, but children are being made to wear blazers to transition between lessons or risk 'intervention’, forget their homework planner or exercise books and risk the same, and God forbid they leave behind their purple pen!”

The spokesperson said that the three main things the school was currently focussing on were the “things that we are starting with” and the aim was that “a rising tide lifts all ships”. She said: “We are a fully comprehensive school, and we want our standards to be high for all students and that starts with some basic things like punctuality and wearing our uniform with pride. We want to start with those things.

“But we also know that only two per cent of students are being given interventions and only two children have repeated the issue following an intervention.

“We know that a vast majority of our students are getting these things right day in and day out. We had a recent visitor who reported not hearing a word of adverse language, no litter and a positive vibes across the school so we know that we have great students.

“Our parents trust us to run the school and we are always happy to engage with them as and when there is a problem or something they want to speak to us about and we will work towards a positive solution and hopefully fix the problem.”

We didn’t only speak to parents who were criticising the latest changes, one parent contacted us in full support of the school. They said: “Firstly, contrary to what you may hear, pupils and parents were told that these rules would be implemented formally after the June half term, about six weeks ago.

“Everybody involved has had the intervening time to ensure that all pupils have the items they require in the classroom and can get used to being on time at school and also to check their uniform meets the required standard without any consequences until the return after half term.

“The school requires no more than to turn up to a lesson on time and with the correct equipment, that is pencils, rubbers etc etc. not a huge ask and good practice for later life. The reason behind this was explained fully, other pupils' and teachers' time was continually wasted by some people's failure to do this, again, they have had weeks to get used to this and prepare.

“The items, once in the pencil case, can remain there. The excuse that students should not be punished for forgetting is irrelevant, once they have got together the equipment and put it in their bag the requirement has been met.

“The issue with wearing blazers in the heat is a non issue. The temperatures have not been extreme to date but even so on the couple of warmer days we have had, pupils have not been required to wear blazers. “Those reports of heatstroke are over the top and exaggerated [the spokesperson stated that not a single student suffered heatstroke, passed out or needed first aid].

“I myself work in a primary school and was outside for an hour yesterday on the school field. Whilst not required to wear a blazer, it wouldn’t have been too hot had I had to. Today the students have been told that during this warmer weather they do not need to wear one.

“Timekeeping is a basic requirement in any job or organisation. It is perfectly reasonable to require that all pupils turn up on time for their day or lesson.

“My view is that as usual, a few are causing a major fuss, it is the same names on the social media posts that come up regularly and appear to be dissatisfied with any policy the school implements.”

Another parent independently contacted the college to say: “I think it’s great you are focusing on getting the students to be punctual and prepared, these are skills that they will need throughout their lives.
“I’m so impressed with Kingsbridge School and the caring attitude your staff have towards my children.”

We have contacted the other secondary schools in the area to ask about their policy on blazers etc during the summer but they have yet to reply.

If you would like to make additional comments, you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. As always, we would love to hear from you.

 

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