25.02.2023 - Letter from the Headteacher
February 25th 2023
25 February 2023
Dear Parents and Carers
I am sure you are aware of the recent media coverage of student protests that have taken place in schools, both nationally and in Cornwall. There has been incitement to protest, fuelled by misreporting in the media and also by false accounts created on TikTok, which have spread often incorrect messaging and mis-messaging. Regrettably, the behaviour of a few individuals has led to major disruptions in some schools and these irresponsible actions put everyone’s safety at risk.
I am taking the opportunity to communicate with you that, as the headteacher of Falmouth School, I cannot accept any ill-conceived ideas from individuals whose actions would pose safeguarding and health and safety risks. The safety of all students and staff is paramount.
I will now outline the current situation regarding the expectations regarding the use of toilets at Falmouth School. Lessons are 60 minutes long; this means that most students can manage learning successfully for this time and can access facilities at breaktimes. Students with medical conditions, which the school has been informed about, can access the facilities anytime, staff are aware of these students and this always has been the case. Parents and carers can alert us to any changes of medical conditions by supplying medical evidence through our usual channels of communication and the school will create a plan for these individuals.
Students can access toilets throughout a lesson, however we request that they avoid doing so during the first/last 10min of the lesson wherever possible. At those points the introduction or conclusion of learning takes place and we do not want the students to miss the key information. As I have written, students are permitted to use the facilities by their teacher during the lesson time and they carry a written note with them - showing which room, the time and which teacher has allowed this. Only one student at a time is permitted to go from any one class to prevent students congregating in toilets. This is to minimise the number of students out of lessons and to maintain disruption free learning for all students. Adults can therefore positively check the reasons for students being out of lessons when encountered in corridors and students are allowed to use the toilets appropriately.
Students are also asked not to go to the toilets with their phone on their person. This is because we have encountered a small group of students who will occasionally message each other and organise to meet during the lesson time at the facilities, or using the phone for social use not linked to any learning, or indeed to truant. Phones should remain turned off in students’ bags as outlined in my previous communications and conveyed through our school expectations. We support all our students in following all our expectations and accessing any support and facilities for genuine reasons so that their learning is positive and impactful.
However, there are a small number of students who are frequently out of lessons, who seek to leave under the toilet use pretext and doing so throughout the day. We are currently striving to log more diligently on our attendance systems the frequency that these students are out of lessons and for what purpose. Whilst these students will continue to be positively supported, they will be challenged to ensure they are behaving reasonably.
Some students have reported issues linked to some students congregating and not using the facilities correctly and we have been acting on this. Throughout our recent assemblies, all students were given the same message. For health and safety reasons only one person at any one time can access a toilet cubicle. Should more students be found or reported in one cubicle, this will lead to a sanction. This will be proportionate with any concerns we have. The facilities should be used for the purpose they are designed for and the state of the toilets should be the same at 9am and at 2pm so that every student can access the facilities in the same condition. We expect the facilities to be looked after and maintained at a high standard. Consuming food, using mobile phones and vaping is absolutely not permitted and it is not tolerated.
Throughout all our positive messaging and assemblies, the emphasis has been on collective responsibility: all students need to look after the school property; students need to report any damage or misuse of the facilities and not be bystanders. Toilets have been repaired where the damage has been reported. To increase students’ safety, we reviewed the CCTV system in some areas and we are working on improving it so that privacy continues to be maintained but making it more trackable when damage and/or inappropriate behaviour is reported. Our staff check the facilities during the break times and we will increase the monitoring of the facilities even further. These steps will enable us to identify the culprit/s more efficiently and resolve any issues promptly.
To further reassure students, this week we are going to designate different toilets to different year groups so that students feel safe, more comfortable and to enable us to identify those individuals who repeatedly cause damage to public property, those who fail to follow the health and safety expectations or those who pose inappropriate behaviours towards others.
We welcome feedback from parents and students on the improvements we have been implementing as a consequence of feedback received.
You and I know that Falmouth School is on an improvement journey. Since I have been appointed I have seen the vast majority of students demonstrating their understanding of ‘Falmouth Family’ and showing it daily by their kindness, positive behaviours and pride. Students understand what our daily expectations are, why we wear the Falmouth School uniform with pride and why we collectively work together on making the school environment enjoyable everywhere. Our messaging throughout the assemblies has been consistent, always positive and supportive of all students.
We have a number of ways that students can raise questions or concerns about everything we do at school. Our Junior Leadership Team, who I met with recently, are championing our Falmouth Family ethos positively and have been an excellent representation of the student body who support all the improvements, and collaborate with staff. I am very much looking forward to our regular meetings to share our Trust mission, vision and values and embed our Falmouth Cultures together across the whole school and deepen the students’ understanding why we do what we do and the way we do it.
Unfortunately, the way some of the protests have played out in other schools is wholly unacceptable and have created unsafe conditions for students and staff. The behaviour of some social media users, young people and adults alike, has created misunderstandings and the subsequent protests have put the schools’ operations at risk. I need to emphasise that any student who chooses to behave in any unsafe way that undermines our values and our aim to strive for an extraordinary school and extraordinary learning environment allowing everyone to thrive, will be managed in line with the behaviour policy. I am asking all parents and carers to talk to their children proactively about this as I do not want to be in the situation of having to follow on any actions or behaviour that make students or staff in school unsafe.
I thank you for reading this letter and I am sure you appreciate the importance of my communicating with you, and how important your support is in this. The success, wellbeing and happiness of all students is important and it can only happen when we all work together. I very much value your ongoing support in modelling to our young people, calm rational decision making and positive use of social media.
Posted at 13:33 on 30th Mar 2023 Back