POLICE were called to a town secondary school this week after pupils began protesting against planned changes there.
Protests were held inside and outside Walton Girls’ High School against proposed changes being introduced by new headteacher, Christine Horrocks, who took over the school in January.
More than 400 pupils and parents are believed to have signed a petition, handed to the headteacher, asking to have more say and influence on the future of the school.
Derrick Allen said he was considering pulling his daughter out of the school because of the problems. He said: “They are trying to change the way the classes are run and the girls are not happy about it. They are going to be in classes with older girls and younger girls and none of their friends.
“They have been protesting about it but nobody is listening. The children who are at the school and the parents of those children should have a say.
“Because it’s an academy there’s no council we can go to to complain.
“None of this went on under the last headteacher - the school ran beautifully.”
Police were called when a group of the girls left the school at around noon on Monday following the protest. Pupils are not permitted to leave the school without permission during school time.
Mrs Horrocks denied any pupils had been expelled or excluded as a result of the protests.
She added: “At Walton, the safety of our students is paramount. As part of our Safeguarding Policy, we work with parents and police if appropriate.”
The most controversial change being proposed would see the introduction of “vertical tutoring”. Parents fear the scheme will see classes broken up and re-formed on the basis of educational ability rather than age.
However, headteacher Christine Shorrock told the Journal students will continue to be taught in year groups and students from different year groups will only be together in form registration time.
She added: “The aim is to strengthen the House system and provide leadership opportunities for students and enable form tutors to mentor students individually.
“Vertical Tutoring has been successfully implemented in a number of schools for several years.”
A student from Walton who wishes to remain anonymous contacted the Journal this week.
She said: “On Monday the students organised a friendly protest, deciding that this was the only way to get their voices heard.
“On the day of the protest the staff treated every student like they were a prisoner at school. To avoid anything major the staff went over-board on trying to stop the protest and called the police.
“I’m sure that many of you will agree that this was a waste of the emergency service’s time and effort.
“So all I, and other students would like is more of a voice in the decisions that are being made by the staff and new Headteacher, Mrs Christine Horrocks.
“Then next time the protesting could be avoided.”
Mrs Horrocks said the school is taking into account the views of parents and teachers.
She said: “We have undergone a full consultation process including a parents’ surgery for parents to discuss any concerns.
“Students, parents, staff and governors’ views are taken into account and, as always, the decision is made which, we believe, is in the best interests of the students.”