Published: 00:01, 10 August 2018
More than 450 pupils signed a petition against a school's controversial new lunchtime policy in just three days.
The idea - branded family lunch - is to be introduced at the Towers School in September, but parents claim the new scheme will stop children from eating with their friends.
Students will be assigned a seat in the dining hall and must spend 25 minutes sitting with their tutor groups during lunchtime.
Molly Vint, who lives in Kingsnorth and will start Year 11 in September, set up the petition during the last three days of term and gained more than 450 signatures.
The 15-year-old's father, Malcolm, told our sister paper the Kentish Express: "After learning that she would have to sit in a set place for the last year of her schooling, Molly took a mature approach and set up a petition.
"She only had a couple of days to collect signatures and considering the Year 7s haven't started and the Year 11s have already left, it shows that a large proportion of the school are against the policy.
"Molly showed the petition to the leadership team. They said they would relax the rules slightly and let pupils decide who they want to sit with within their tutor groups."
Head teacher Richard Billings says he has introduced the scheme after completing an "an exhaustive piece of theoretical research" over nine months, which has included visiting schools with a similar lunchtime structure in place.
He says the idea is the next step in his vision for Towers.
Once pupils have had their lunch with their tutor groups, it will be followed by 25 minutes of free time, where pupils will be able to socialise with their friends until the next lesson.
Mr Billings told the paper last month: “Students will sit in the same seat in the dining hall every lunch time and this will give them the opportunity to converse and eat their lunch sensibly each day.
"We believe in developing our students not just through the curriculum we teach but through our approach to every aspect of the school day.
“Lunch is the perfect time to continue to enhance moral values of support, kindness and helpfulness."
Lunchtime at Towers will be extended in September, meaning the school day will finish at 3pm. The day will start at 8.45am.