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Folkestone Academy announces Saturday detention plans

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A decision by a new Folkestone head teacher to introduce Saturday detention has caused uproar among many parents.

Folkestone Academy head Seamus Murphy informed parents of the plans in a letter ahead of the upcoming academic term.

Folkestone Academy head Seamus Murphy
Folkestone Academy head Seamus Murphy

The plans would see students come in between 9am and 11am on Saturday as a punishment.

Mr Murphy said these measures are being introduced to combat absenteeism in the school.

In the letter, he writes: "I am concerned about the number of students who either are late to school or absent.

"Currently too many students are not in school and therefore struggling to catch up on the work they missed.

"I believe that students need to be in school to achieve and rather than use exclusion, I will be holding Saturday detentions from 9am to 11am.

'Currently too many students are not in school...'- Seamus Murphy

"I will expect parents to accompany their children in full uniform to school if they receive a Saturday detention for significantly failing to follow Academy procedures.

"I thank you for your support in advance with this initiative so that we can ensure no students miss school lessons unnecessarily."

However, the news has not been well received by all parents at the school, some who have slammed the decision as 'unfair'.

Mum-of-two Katrina Brice said: "My son has autism and it is a struggle to get him to school on a normal day, if he had to go on a Saturday all hell would break loose and he would have a meltdown.

"My daughter has spina bifida and cannot be in school without a specialist teacher there, so would the teacher go in in a Saturday for 2 hours for supervising her?

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

"Luckily neither have ever had a detention so hopefully this wouldn't apply, but I don't think it is right.

"Kids spend enough time at school during the week, weekends are their wind down time.

"I know misbehaving children have to have some form of punishment but why can't the detention not go back to being after school or during a lunchtime or something like that?

"Surely parents can't be forced into doing this and if my kids do get a detention they won't be going on a Saturday.

"Next they will be trying to give parents detentions for their kids behaviour!"

'It's not fair, it's not right...'- Anonymous Folkestone Academy parent

Another parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "Children need to learn but so do half of those teachers at the school, a lot of them are rude to parents as well as children - respect works both ways.

"And to do this now, and to make parents have to stay with them... I have another child apart from the two who go to the academy, and a husband that works, It's not fair, it's not right."

However, one dad of two children at the Academy, Dave Ockenden, spoke in support of the no-nonsense approach.

He 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."

Mr Ockenden accepted it might be difficult for some parents to facilitate weekend detentions, but that this should encourage families to take greater responsibility for their children's behaviour.

He added: "To not facilitate this only reinforces the idea that authority and rules do not have to be respected - precisely the reason why they have been given a detention in the first place!

"However, this needs to be prefaced by the understanding that Saturday detentions will not simply be replacing after school detentions."

The Academy has since defended its decision.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

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