West Midlands school accused of segregating children in playground

A primary school has been accused of segregating children in the playground based on whether or not their parents contributed towards the cost of sports equipment reports The Guardian.

Those whose parents had paid for the footballs, skipping ropes and other items were allowed to play with them at lunchtimes, while those whose parents had not were excluded from the games organised by a member of staff.

Parents launched a petition online, accusing the headteacher of Wednesbury Oak Academy, in the West Midlands, of separating the children into “paid” and “unpaid” pupils.

After coming under pressure, the school’s governors quickly scrapped the system. “We have listened to the concerns raised and will be ending the scheme with immediate effect. We are a school that believes in putting our children at the heart of everything we do,” said Elizabeth Perrin, the chair of the school governors.

The petition explained that parents and teachers had discussed ways of funding the purchase of equipment for a “fun-time lunchtime play equipment bag” at the school, which is about 2.5 miles north of Dudley, in Sandwell.

Various ideas were rejected in favour of asking for a voluntary £6 contribution, said the blurb on the campaigning site, Change.org. But when the children returned after the Christmas holidays, they found a policy of separation had been put in place.

The Labour MP for West Bromwich West, Adrian Bailey, blamed government cuts that had left schools in the area “facing financial crisis”. 

“Inevitably, this results in some parents being unable to contribute. This is especially true in a lower-income area like Sandwell, leading to a culture of social division and resentment, impacting on the ability of pupils to learn.”

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Has your school asked for parental contributions? Please tell us your thoughts inc comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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