Penrice Academy warns pupils could be expelled over protest that got out of control
A secondary school in Cornwall has spoken out following a protest which got out of control.
Students at Penrice Academy had been due to protest against newly enforced toilet rules on Friday (24 February) when the demonstration got out of hand.
Parents and students have been protesting across the country in a row over toilet rules - uniting as part of a TikTok trend.
At Penrice, pupils reported that tables were flipped and students were seen climbing fences during the protest over its toilet rules - which include pupils only going to the bathroom outside of lesson time, and girls being able to request red card passes when they are on their period.
The school has now spoken out by condemning the behaviour of some students, while thanking those who attended lessons or wanted to engage in a peaceful protest.
It said those who did not must be met with serious consequences - which could include being banned from prom or being kicked out of school permanently.
It also raised concerns over further potential school protests on Monday (27 February), with these being encouraged on some social media platforms.
'Our school values are pride, respect and success'
In a letter sent to parents yesterday by Penrice Academy's head teacher, Lucy Gambier, she said the school wanted to reassure parents that those taking part in "unacceptable behaviours" would be punished.
Ms Gambier wrote that all sanctions available to the school will be used as required - including permanent exclusion, meaning some will be kicked out for good.
The full letter reads: "We wanted to take the time to write to you this weekend to reflect on the protests that happened at Penrice and in other schools across the country on Friday. We also want to give some reassurance and clarity in light of continued posts inciting similar behaviour for Monday in schools up and down the country.
"These are a concerning trend on TikTok and other social media platforms. Our school values are Pride, Respect and Success, these are shared and upheld by our fantastically supportive community of students, parents and staff.
"Our success is built upon trust, mutual respect and strong relationships between students, staff and parents.
"May we express our sincere disappointment that a small minority of our students behaved in an unacceptable way on Friday morning. This behaviour followed a number of posts on social media encouraging students to protest at Penrice Academy."
The letter continued: "We do recognise many of these students intended this to be a calm and constructive protest. Many who initially got involved, removed themselves when they realised a small number of students had no intention of a peaceful and respectful protest.
"We would also like to recognise and thank over 90% of our students that made the right decision and continued their lessons in a calm and sensible manner throughout the day.
"We have adequate CCTV, video footage and reports from staff and students. This has enabled us to see exactly which students have been involved in unacceptable behaviours, affecting the health and safety of our students and staff.
"These behaviours have to be addressed with serious consequences. We will continue to investigate and gather evidence in the coming days and will issue further sanctions as required. This will include the full range of sanctions at our disposal, up to and including permanent exclusion."
'Penrice Academy will not tolerate any behaviour that poses a risk to health and safety'
"On Monday, we will be providing time for students to speak individually and as part of a tutor group to have their voices heard in a calm and constructive manner. An academy council meeting will follow later in the week to allow all students to have their views represented and we will update students and parents on the actions that come from this.
"It is important that students use the appropriate channels to have their views heard.
"Penrice Academy will not tolerate any behaviour that poses a risk to health and safety, fails to go through the appropriate channels or disregards the instructions of a member of staff. Any student who behaves in such a way will be subject to sanctions. This may include the removal of certain privileges such as curriculum enrichment week, trips, visits and celebration events. We would ask parents/carers to discuss this with their children."
It concluded by asking concerned parents to engage with the school: "We would like to provide an opportunity for any parents to come in and discuss any queries they may have directly with us.
"Please contact enquiries (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make an appointment with one of the senior team, in the coming days. We would like to thank students and parents for their continued support."