Barred from sports day

A VILLAGE school has taken the unusual step of putting its annual Sports Day on hold and potentially banning parents in the wake of continued conflict between the school and a group of parents.

The Sports Day at Upwell Community Primary School was due to take place this week but has now been postponed until the end of the month while further consideration is made.

Headteacher James McBurney made the difficult decision after discussing the issue with staff.

The letter said: “It is with the greatest and sincerest regret that all staff have decided, in light of recent events, that Sports Day is likely to take place without parents being invited.

“We understand that we have many supportive parents and we would like to offer our heartfelt apologies for this decision.

“We have deliberated over this at great length but feel that many day-to-day routines have been misinterpreted or misunderstood.

“The present climate is affecting the well-being of all children and staff morale.

“However, we are prepared to postpone Sports Day until June 29 and decide nearer to the time whether parents will be invited.”

The decision came following a children’s art event at the school which members of the public could attend.

A number of parents did not send their children to school on that day over concerns for their safety, and Mr McBurney was concerned the same thing would happen at Sports Day.

Commenting on the decision to postpone Sports Day, Mr McBurney said: “We have the highest regard for the safety and well-being of all of our children and staff and want to ensure Sports Day is the best day possible for children and their parents and carers.

“However, we have concerns that some parents may not be supportive on the day and we have therefore decided to postpone the event while we seek assurances from parents. This was not an easy decision but was one taken by all of the school’s staff.

“Recently, a number of parents chose not to send their children to school when we took part in an event, because of their concerns that visitors were on site. It was an extremely successful event and the staff spent long hours preparing displays and ensuring the safety of the children.

“There will also be visitors on site during Sports Day and we therefore need to make sure that everyone is satisfied with how the day is run so that attendance levels can be maintained and the day is able to run as smoothly as possible.”

One unhappy parent contacted the Citizen after receiving the letter from the school and said she did not know why Mr McBurney had made this decision. “It is just going to upset parents even more,” she said.

She said if the ban on parents attending was upheld, several would not send their children to school on that day as a “protest”.

A group of parents previously contacted the Citizen in March, unhappy after changes were made to the way their children were dropped off at the school in the morning.

Parents were no longer permitted to personally take their children to the door but had to wait on the edge of the playground.

The school defended its actions and said it was to improve the safety of children and make the morning drop-off less chaotic.