Parents hit out at Milton Keynes school's threat to give detention to all pupils who forget facemask

The parents have even offered to fundraise to buy boxes of disposable masks for the school

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 1:44 pm

A letter home to parents warning that pupils would be given detention if they forgot their facemask has caused an outcry this week.

The new Watling Academy on MK's Whitehouse estate opened last year, taking Year 7s in the first phase.

Parents received a letter from headteacher Ian Bacon on Friday - and many were shocked at the content.

Watling Academy is on Whitehouse in MK

"It warned that if any child failed to take a facemask with them to use at school, they would be given an automatic breaktime detention," said one dad.

"It seems very harsh to me. These children are only 11 and even the best-organised 11-year-old will occasionally forgot or lose something. Surely there are bigger sins that warrant a detention?" said one dad.

Other parents questioned why the school couldn't buy a box of spare disposable masks for students who forgot. And some mum even offered to get up a fundraising page to provide them.

"It's not as though they're expensive. You'd think a newly opened school could afford to buy a box or two," said one.

Pupils have to wear facemasks in communal areas of the school, between lessons

Other parents have questioned the psychological effect of the punishment on their children.

"A sensitive child could be really upset at having a detention for something as minor as a facemask," said one mum.

Another said: "It doesn't make sense from a health point of view. Why would you stick a child in a room full of other students, who've also forgotten their masks, and let the Covid germs spread. They'd all be better running about outside in the fresh air."

The Academy, which is part of the Denbigh Alliance Multi-Academy Trust, will eventually take 1,800 students. But, due to the staged opening, it currently has a few hundred.

Like most schools, it has a policy that pupils wear facemasks in all communal areas of the school.

The Citizen contacted Watling academy yesterday afternoon for a response.

Head Mr Bacon said: "The safety of all students, staff and visitors is, and always has been, our highest priority since the start of the pandemic and we have always followed Public Health advice as a guide for the measures we have put in place."

He added: "Part of what we do is encourage all members of our community to take responsibility for playing their part in helping to keep everyone safe.

"Apart from those who are medically exempt, the overwhelming majority of our students came to school wearing a face covering on Monday and the very small number who did not were given a mask and were kept in at break time, to reinforce the expectation that we all have our part to play in keeping our school safe. On Tuesday, the number who forgot their masks had reduced to almost zero.

"We completely understand the impact the pandemic has had on some families and will always provide a face mask for any child in this situation without consequence, in the same way as we do if a family is experiencing difficulties with providing any other aspect of equipment needed for school."

Mr Bacon concluded: "I am hugely grateful to our students and parents for all the support they give in helping us to remain safe during what has been a really challenging period."