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Folkestone Academy defends Saturday detention decision

A school in Folkestone which has come under fire for planning to introduce Saturday detentions has defended its position.

The move, designed to combat absenteeism, is one of the first acts of new headteacher Seamus Murphy.

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Folkestone Academy School Picture : Gary Browne
Folkestone Academy School Picture : Gary Browne

The announcement lead to a largely negative reaction from many parents, with some saying it is "unfair" and "absolutely ridiculous".

One parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "My son has ADHD and has to be sent to school medicated for him to be able to get on with the day.

"He will not cope with these stupid changes as Saturdays are his days for clubs.

"I feel that giving Saturdays as a punishment would not work for any child as I can’t see any child with behaviour problems actually listening to rules - I’m all for rules, but only when they will benefit the child."

However, when approached for comment, a spokesman for the school said: "At Folkestone Academy we have high expectations for our students in lessons and around school.

"Poor behaviour from students can be hugely detrimental to their own attainment and that of their peers, and is disruptive to the overall school environment.

"Pupils need to be in school to achieve and, as we made clear in our letter to parents, the introduction of Saturday detentions is an alternative to students being formally excluded.

"Saturday detentions will be overseen by the Executive Principal, and will be applied fairly and consistently.

"They are only one part of our wider behaviour policy, which is entirely focused on making sure our students receive a powerful education that gives them the tools they need to succeed in later life."

A number of parents have also contacted KentOnline saying that they agree with the decision.

"The school are clearly trying to make improvements..." - Anonymous Folkestone Academy Parent

Dave Ockenden said: "Assuming Saturday detentions are reserved for more serious, persistent rule breakers then I am in favour.

"If either of my daughters receive a Saturday detention, I will happily march them to school to make sure they attend, and if it impacts on family life and their free time, so much the better."

Another parent said: "If my child gets given one of these at school and I believe he deserves it, then I will make sure he goes and I will gladly attend with him.

"I totally understand that some parents may not be able to easily accompany their child to detention on a weekend due to split parenting or having to work, but they should make every effort possible to work with the school, not against them.

"The school are clearly trying to make improvements, which I think should be commended."

A student at the school also said that he thought the detentions were a good idea: "I am all for them bringing the Saturday detention, as the number of students that have less than 90% attendance - it's not great to put it simply.

"Obviously attendance like this for some students is unacceptable as well as it having a massive impact on the student's grades by the end of the year, which if continued might have a detrimental impact on the student's GCSEs when they reach year 11.

"By the school bringing this in I would hope it will have a positive impact on those students who are intentionally missing school."

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