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Maidstone Girls Grammar criticised for denying Year 11 girls their last day of term

Maidstone Grammar School For Girls has sparked a Facebook storm by a late decision not to allow Year 11 students back into school for their last few days of term.

The girls, who are due to start their GCSE exams on Monday, had been looking forward to last Friday as the last day of term, and what is known as 'Muck-Up Day.'

Maidstone Grammar School for Girls off Buckland Road
Maidstone Grammar School for Girls off Buckland Road

It's a time when traditionally, the students play practical jokes on their teachers and each other but more importantly say goodbye to their year groups and to friends who will not be returning to the school for the sixth form.

There is also a tradition of signing each others' shirts as a keepsake memento.

But at 4pm on Wednesday, parents received a ParentMail message to say their children should not go into class on Thursday or Friday.

The message said the move was to allow Covid cleansing of the classrooms, but that rationale has been greeted with some scepticism by some parents who feel the school merely wanted to forestall any naughtiness on Muck-Up Day.

One mother, whose daughter has been a student at the school from Year 7, said: "It was very upsetting for her. The girls had had their last day without knowing it!"

Headmistress Deborah Stanley
Headmistress Deborah Stanley

"My daughter is planning to do her sixth-form at a different school, so she has now lost the chance to say goodbye to friends and to thank her teachers properly."

She said: "This Year 11 cohort have already faced unprecedented challenges and will now face unusual GCSE exams next week after experiencing yet another loss of ‘normal’ school life.

"During lockdown social interactions have exacerbated poor mental health and to deny all these children and dedicated teachers the opportunity to say ‘thank you and goodbye’ and to enjoy taking photos and signing shirts as a reminder of their last five years together is mean."

Other parents posting on the MGGS Parents and Friends Association Facebook page agreed.

Becky Roberts said: "My niece has been in bits and is expected to sit exams from Monday. Why on earth the week before exams cause this extra stress and heartache? I'm disgusted how Year 11 have been treated and sad for the teaching staff.

'To be chucked out of school early with no notice is awful!'

She said: "These students needed their support right up to their exams and instead have had the door shut in their faces."

Kathy Foster said: "My daughter and her friends are so upset. I can’t imagine the school could have done anything worse to set them up for next week's exams. It was a seriously poor decision."

Tracy Skinner said: "My daughter was very upset to find out on the car journey home that Wednesday had been her last day at school. Thank goodness my daughter is moving on to college as I know that if she were attending sixth form, all her enthusiasm and trust in the school would have disappeared!"

Sixty-five similar comments were posted.

Many of the students will be returning to MGGS for their sixth form, and some will get the chance to meet friends when they attend for exams over the next three weeks.

One mum said: "It's hardly the same. They've been told to turn up for the exam and then leave at once after. Plus they are not all doing the same exams. There will be no chance for a proper goodbye."

The school has been contacted for comment.

The Facebook post and comments have subsequently been taken down.

In 2019, the school cancelled the Year 11 school prom after Muck Up Day events got put of hand with itching powder put on lavatory seats and washing up liquid on the stairs.

The same year, Invicta Grammar School in Maidstone told its Year 13 students their term was finishing a day early, also allegedly to avoid Muck Up Day pranks.

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