School ‘like prison’ with talking ban and 3 seconds to look at teacher

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Brakenhale School students

By Our special Correspondent

Parents in a secondary school in England are complaining that their children are being treated like prisoners due to new ‘strict rules’ introduced by the school’s newly employed head teacher. These rules include a ban on speaking along the corridors. Any student caught chatting or conversing along any of the school’s corridors would have broken the law and would be liable for punishment. The school, Brakenhale School in Berkshire, has in fact, faced repeated complaints from parents since 2022, with some of them comparing the school with a military camp.
The new head teacher, Ms. Camilla Douglas, joined the school only in February. But now parents claim things have even gone from bad to worse. For instance, the school children are reportedly being told they had just three seconds to look at a teacher who is talking to them.
Concerned parents say 30 students were suspended in the new head teacher’s first week alone. And some of them say pupils are being told off for having “fake cough”, short hair or false eyelashes. Others claim 40 of the students have moved from the school to a nearby secondary school in just a single week after requesting transfers.
The claims come after a former English teacher, Paul Wells, criticised the school’s managers for their authoritarian approach, this week. In September last year, he said the school was like an army barracks or a military school.
Parents Keith Ellis, 41, and Kelly Ellis, 46, have two children at the school – Frankie, 14, and Teddy, 15. The parents say they would move their children to a different school in a heartbeat if they weren’t currently preparing for exams.
Kelly, a hairdresser, said rules she deemed were unfair include: if a teacher says ‘1,2,3’ all the kids in the class have to put everything down and look at the teacher otherwise they would get a warning. And about the rule that students weren’t allowed to speak along the corridor, she said: “They have literally been silenced the whole day and they’re even escorted out of the premises.”

Keith, a martial arts teacher, added: “Our youngest son got punched in the face by a student, then our son was put into isolation because he pushed the boy back.”
Kelly said Frankie was sent to isolation – where students are sent to a separate room for reflection, because his haircut was too short. She said the same happened when he coughed, because the teacher thought it was “fake”. They say the school’s safeguarding team have been “terrific” but aren’t happy with other staff or the rules.
Another parent, Nicole Alder, 40, has a 15 year old at the school. She says children can go without talking for up to three hours – because they aren’t allowed to speak in the corridor between lessons. Nicole described this policy as “very military and very like kids should be seen not heard.”
She said another pupil was sent away from school due to wearing fake eye lashes – by a teacher who also wore fake eye lashes herself. A Facebook page set up by parents of children at the school also contained complaints. “When I brought up my concern about discrimination, it was effectively ignored. This school is a joke, with children running around with knives, teachers abusing kids and when you pull them up about it they think it’s alright to abuse the parents who are sitting at the Reception. Brakenhale does not provide an education environment. It is like a prison and is so unhealthy. I have never seen so many parents waiting at Reception for “back to school” meetings as I did today, after school. My Year Eleven child has been told today that they have to change for PE in silence. Leave the changing rooms in silence. Walk between lessons in silence. When in lessons be silent.”
The head teacher said they do not comment on student and staff matters and people should contact the school directly. Grainne Siggins, executive director for people at Bracknell Forest Council, said: “Brakenhale School is an academy in the Greenshaw Learning Trust and therefore any complaints should be made directly to the school so their complaints process can be followed. The council is not responsible for the day-to-day handling of parental complaints at any school in the borough, and would only respond to allegations relating to safeguarding concerns.” The head teacher said: “We do not comment through the press on matters regarding to students and encourage any parents or previous employees with concerns to contact the school directly.”

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