Not far from my house is a secondary school - it used to be Mallory, known for being an awful school full of naughty kids and it tried to change - the school became an Haberdasher Aske Knights Academy and no longer a school for the naughty!
... Or so they'd like you to believe! I've never felt the need to do anything about most of the naughtiness I see - after all, these are teenage kids and this is south east London - littering, swearing, smoking, hedge diving, fights and Rottweilers (there's a pupil who lives right round the corner from the school on Geraint Road who has set his pet Rottweiler free to chase his school friends down the road on several occasions resulting in terrified kids jumping up on people's cars!) these are certainly things I wouldn't have dared (or wanted) to do and I hope also things my children won't do either.
But what happened to make me realise that you might dress this up as an academy but it's still a school for the naughty?
At lunch time as I was walking past, there were a group of pupils hurtling long garden canes, sandwiches and rocks over the school fence into the pavement and not caring who they hit - this is the same path used by Launcelot primary school nearby who have a change over at lunch for their reception children.
These kids (not just boys but girls too can you believe!) were snapping the canes off a fence and hitting each other and throwing them at passersby. Very violent and disturbing behaviour.
There were no teachers on patrol and the security cameras are obviously defunked, or unmanned. I reported the situation to reception who just wanted me to jot my details on a bit of paper so someone could call me back!
It might seem a bit dramatic to report it, and if it was just myself passing, I might not have bothered but I was trying to pass with a baby in a sling and a terrified toddler - having garden canes and rocks hurtled at you would be terrifying for anyone - let alone if the canes were taller than you!
When I did speak to someone, 15 mins later, other than the receptionist who couldn't even be bothered to jot things down herself - a good while after the incident - it was still going on! - just how long does this school leave its pupils to hit each other with garden canes and put the public at risk before intervening! The teacher I spoke to thanked me for bringing it to his attention! - seriously! They rely on members of the public to come into the school to tell them when there is a problem in their own playground?
I can understand not controlling what goes on outside the school but when it's in the school grounds and at lunch time - come on!
What's more, the teacher said they may have to look at replacing the garden cane fencing with something else admitting that this was an ongoing (obviously unaddressed problem!) - is he for real? Replace the fence? - why not help teach these kids some morals and respect instead or at the very least, staff the playground at lunch time for goodness sake!
Even while the teacher (A Mr Owen who introduced himself as assistant head) was stood talking to me, looking at the playground, it was still going on and he didn't seem the least bit concerned or actually took any action, he was holding a walkie talking - not sure what the point was if violent acts didn't even warrant its use!
I continued with our walk to the post office and was surprised to see the same thing happening on my return walk! - absolutely nothing was done, I guess the teacher just went straight back to his sandwich - he'd told me that he had a child of a similar age - I wonder what he would have done if it was his kids the canes and rocks were being launched at?
A few days later, I walked passed the same school to go to Downham Library, not only were the kids still breaking the cane fencing and hitting each other but also the throwing over the fence at passing public now included an entire ream of paper, a power cable - complete with plug and a random shoe!
And on another day when we were passing at home time, just in front of me, two students came out of the school and started putting on some roller skates - one of the kids pulled a 12" screwdriver from his backpack to fiddle with his skate! - What the flip are they doing with screwdrivers on school grounds? I'm just glad that they were only using it on their roller skates but I'd hazard a guess that half the kids in there would use it for something much more violent given their garden cane usage preferences.
Emma in Bromley xx