Parent and Carer email
Dear Parents and Carers,
You may have been made aware of the 'protests' that some students are staging in schools across the country.
Students in other schools staged protests last week for different reasons which are not all relevant to ECC
- toilet doors being removed from the entrances to toilet blocks
- students unable to use the toilets during lesson time
- students being issued 'red cards' when on their periods to allow them to use the toilet during lesson times
- uniform - for example, not having to wear it or being allowed to wear skirts shorter than on the knee.
As yet, none of our students have made us aware of any grievances they have and their wish to protest against as a result of not being heard.
In response to the nationwide protests, a small minority of our students decided to join in with these protests during Friday lunchtime despite these issues not all being relevant to ECC. This small minority unfortunately created unrest for a large majority of our key stage 3 student body.
During lunchtime a student set off a fire alarm on our Green Close site triggering our evacuation procedures. Our students have only recently been updated and walked through our revised fire evacuation procedures so were responsive and co-operative in following the process. Unfortunately, there were some students who used this time to be disruptive and disrespectful to staff who were trying to ensure students were safe (unaware at this point that the fire alarm had been set off by a student and wasn't a real fire).
Once in the fire evacuation point (the tennis courts) year 7, 8 and the majority of year 9 students followed instructions and lined up in their tutor groups. They were then sent to their period 5 lesson. The decision was taken to keep year 9 in the evacuation point as some were not following instructions and used the time to be disrespectful towards staff and leave the evacuation point without permission. In response, the year group were delayed going to period 5 whilst they were spoken to as a year group. We take fire evacuations very seriously and must ensure students understand the importance of following instructions to keep each other safe.
At this point we were unaware that this was a 'protest'. No students had tried to raise any issues during the evacuation or tried to speak to staff about any grievances. It only came to light after the event when speaking with students and then on social media over the weekend.
Praise should be given to our key stage 4 and 5 students who played no part in this event and behaved in the supportive and respectful manner we usually experience from our students.
We have responded to Friday’s events in the following way:
- Students in key stage 3 who displayed disrespectful and/or dangerous behaviours received serious consequences for their actions.
- Key stage 3 students were given an assembly by either Mrs Malton (Deputy Principal) or Mr Davis (Principal).
- Mr Davis' assembly was given to year 7 and 8 students online and can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/cp1QrfukgEE
- Mrs Malton’s assembly was given to Year 9 in the Main Hall. A copy of the powerpoint is attached to this email
- Year 9 students had their lunchtime at a different time from the rest of the College today as it had been indicated on social media that today is a national day of protests for students. They had full use of the canteen as normal but were asked to remain in the tennis courts to avoid disruption of lessons.
Whilst we are not expecting any further disruption to learning, we have put these things in place to make our expectations clear to students. We will take a zero-tolerance approach to any student who disrupts the learning and safety of our student body or is disrespectful to our staff trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
In addition to the events on Friday, we were also made aware of some parents and carers who used the Exmouth Community UK Facebook page to comment on the College and some even naming our staff specifically. Many of our colleagues were made aware of the comments and are understandably hurt and upset. We will not comment on social media platforms and our staff are also instructed not to do so for their own safety online. This means we are unable to give a balanced view or respond to the individual comments to give context for all to read. In our experience, the positive outcomes and amazing things our staff do on a day-to-day basis are never talked about publicly on social media (and don't need to be) so the picture painted by a few negative commenters do not speak for the thousands of positive outcomes we experience.
Some of the comments made were extremely disappointing as many parents and carers had not used our channels of communications to raise the issues they publicly did on social media. Their posts on Facebook were the first we were aware of any issues. Please can we remind you that should you wish to raise a grievance or speak with colleagues, you can follow the instructions on our contact us page of our website. Clicking on the blue banners drops down the email addresses of staff Contact (exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk) we ask staff to respond to emails within 72 working hours.
We also have our termly Family Forum where we invite all parents and carers to attend to raise any questions or concerns in addition to members of our senior team presenting on updates and information from the College. Having sent the invite out in the Parent and Carer news well before half term, only 8 parents/carers signed up, so we have had to postpone to next term. Please do use this meeting to raise any points and to speak with staff. Our senior leadership team and Chair of Governors are in attendance and will happily discuss all aspects of the College.
Lastly, thank you to those of you who have sent supportive messages to colleagues over the last 3 days. Working with our parents and carers is extremely important to us and we do value the feedback you offer us.