Blackpool dad's outrage over 'draconian and militant' silence policy at Marton school

A dad has hit back at an 'unfair' policy which he said saw his daughter given detention for asking a teacher a question in a corridor at St George's School.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:55 am

The secondary school, in Cherry Tree Road, Marton, operates ‘silent corridors’, and insists pupils can’t chat while moving between lessons.

But Scott Burnett, 33, from Lindbeck Road in Mereside, slammed the “draconian and militant” policy and said his daughter got a detention for “asking a teacher a question outside a classroom.”

He said: “These kids are pupils who are there to learn. They’re not soldiers. My daughter was given detention because she went to the wrong classroom and asked the teacher where to go, but she was standing outside the door at the time.

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St George's School in Cherry Tree Road, Marton.
St George's School in Cherry Tree Road, Marton.

“Pupils are being sanctioned for the wrong things, they shouldn’t be given detention for saying something to their friends.

“I agree that they shouldn’t be speaking in classrooms or lingering in corridors making them late for lessons, but they should be allowed to speak to their friends while they’re moving.

“It’s common sense really, there has to be a different approach. I call it a silent prison - they have to live in silence all day unless they’re on a break or at dinner.”

Mr Burnett said he tried to speak to teachers and was told the school’s policy is reviewed annually – with parents’ feedback considered.

The policy says: “All pupils move along corridors in single file, they do not turn to their friends, they do not need to speak, they keep eyes front. All pupils must move very quickly, efficiently and politely between lessons because they have to arrive at the next lesson calm and ready to learn. Pupils are free to talk at the start of break, lunch and after school.”

Headteacher Graham Warnock appeared to suggest allowing youngsters to talk between lessons – out of sight and earshot of teachers – could lead to bullying.

He said: “We want our pupils to feel safe every second of the day. In many schools, corridors are an unsupervised and unstructured time for pupils

“In many schools, there is the potential for name calling, pushing, crushing, shoving and bullying and in many schools there is the potential for a lot of lost learning time.

“At St George’s, we have tried to take the best ideas from successful academies and schools from across the country. Silent transitions form a small part of our ‘warm-strict’ culture which not only provides strong academic outcomes for pupils but gives them a well-rounded education.

“Silent transitions are not new to St George’s. We introduced them in 2018 following a number of visits to high performing schools across the country. Our approach was recognised by Ofsted during our March 2019 inspection which deemed our Academy to be good. In 2020 education secretary Gavin Williamson visited St George’s and commented positively on our approach in Parliament.

“By employing a silent transition approach, we have established a culture that is calm and purposeful in all parts of the building and at all times.

“Pupils will be given detention if it is justified but professionalism and discretion are always used. Pupils will not be given detentions for speaking to the teacher.”