Thirteen parents apply to move children out of Great Yarmouth Charter Academy amid controversy over strict rules

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy.
Picture: David Hannant

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy. Picture: David Hannant - Credit: Archant

An academy in Great Yarmouth which introduced strict rules in a bid to transform its fortunes has seen 13 parents apply to remove their children from the school.

Great Yarmouth Charter Academy's rules include that pupils must track a teacher with their eyes whenever the teacher is talking, must walk between lessons silently in single file and are not allowed to use the toilets outside of lunch and break times.

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said the council had received 13 requests for transfers from the academy to another school. If a parent decided to withdraw their child and did not request a transfer, they would not be aware, they added.

But parent Kelvin Seal, who set up a Facebook group for concerned parents, said the figure could be much higher - and that he had been told that 23 parents had taken their children out of the school since the start of term.

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The former Great Yarmouth High School was taken over by the Inspiration Trust and renamed Charter Academy this summer. The academy said around a third of pupils at Great Yarmouth High School left without a pass in English and maths in 2017.

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James Goffin, a spokesman for the trust, said the number of pupils leaving was not a cause for concern, and parents had also approached the academy asking for their children to join.

'It's something that happens at every school in September, particularly with year seven pupils,' he said. 'They often find they come in and their friends are at a different school.

'We're not surprised there's been some movement. We've had some parents who have asked about joining Charter as well. It's not one way.'

Among those removing their children from the school was parent Darren Wheeler, who took his 13-year-old daughter out of the school after reports of children wetting themselves in lessons.

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The school's behaviour guide states: 'We never go to the toilet between lessons or in lesson time. The toilets are open before lessons and at break times. You should not go to the toilets in the last five minutes of break to ensure you do not miss a single second of lesson time.'

Mr Wheeler, whose daughter is in year nine and started at Caister Academy this week, said the rule was 'inhumane'.

'She suffers from IBS so she needs to go to the toilet whenever,' he said.

Asked about this, Mr Goffin said: 'If there's a medical reason, a genuine reason, then that would be fine. We will make reasonable adaptions where there's a genuine need.

'There's been a problem in the past with people claiming they need the loo just to get out of lessons. It's not an unusual policy. The toilets aren't locked, which is being claimed by some people.'

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