A MOTHER has criticised a Thatcham school, claiming it has ‘punished children for being children’ after it disciplined pupils for their energetic behaviour during the recent ‘heatwave’.
Hollie Walcott-Smith said she picked up her 10-year-old son, Seb Walcott-Amos, from Parsons Down Junior School in tears, because he had been punished for moving too quickly during last week’s heatwave.
She said that her son was among 20 youngsters who had received a red card – normally issued in instances of extreme behaviour – for speed-walking during playtime, ‘bending the rules’ laid down by the school.
She claimed that her son received no verbal warning or yellow card and as a result the children will now miss fun events at the end of term.
Mrs Walcott-Smith said: “I find it absolutely bizarre that children can’t be children.
“A red card is used for extreme behaviour. I don’t see why this is extreme.
“I’m just totally baffled. To me that’s waving a red flag to a bull, telling 10-year-olds that they can’t do this. I feel it’s punishing children for being children.”
School behaviour policies see children begin the day on ‘green’ and receive a verbal warning and yellow card before being issued a red. She said the children would now miss partnership time and golden time at the end of term.
“It’s really fun and something the children look forward to,” Mrs Walcott-Smith said. “You can’t treat children who have done this like the ones who have red cards for violence. I think it’s bizarre.”
She said that she understood the school’s need to safeguard children but claimed that her son had not received a verbal warning or yellow card before the incident.
“The punishment does not fit the so-called crime,” she said. “I know they have rules but I disagree with the punishment.”
Mrs Walcott-Smith said that she would from now on be picking her son up at lunchtimes so that he could be active during break times.
The executive headteacher of the Parsons Down Partnership of Schools, Petrina Winsor, said: “The safety of our pupils is paramount and we take our responsibility to ensure that extra care is taken during extreme weather as in this case, which is recorded as a heatwave and (it was) also officially the hottest day of the year.
“Our behaviour policy states that ‘a red card may be issued immediately’ when reasonable requests and instructions in the interests of a child’s safety are not followed.
“The children in question were given several verbal warnings following reminders and direction about behaviour during the hot weather in a school assembly.
“The attention that we give to our safeguarding and welfare of our pupils has recently been validated by Ofsted and judged to be outstanding.”