'Mob' castigated for kiss protest

8th October 2004 at 01:00
A teenager whose classmates walked out of school in protest at a ban on kissing and cuddling has condemned their actions as "mob culture".

Around 200 pupils at Highworth Warneford comprehensive, in Swindon, Wiltshire, refused to return to lessons after lunch, after they were told that they were not allowed to kiss or touch on school grounds.

But one Year 10 pupil has condemned his classmates' protests, claiming that it was irresponsible and attracted lurid media headlines.

"I'm very angry," he said. "The children all see it as a lot of fun. My friend phoned and said, 'isn't it great that our school's on the news?' But it isn't. I'm getting a great education at this school, and this just reflects badly on it.

"There were only five people left in my class that afternoon. The teacher had planned a practical, and it was all wasted."

The pupil, who did not want to be named, said that the protest was started by a handful of "anti-establishment" trouble-makers.

Eight of the ring-leaders have since been suspended but the Year 10 boy also criticised those who joined them in the protest.

He said: "Protesting should be a last resort. We have a school council. Any classroom teacher will listen to what you think. You can write a letter to the governors. But they didn't think before jumping on the bandwagon. It's mob culture, isn't it?"

John Saunders, the school's head, defended the ban on kissing as common sense. He said: "We were simply reminding pupils that certain types of behaviour are not appropriate for school.

"We are concerned about learning. That is what we are here for.

"Pupils can come and talk to me directly, and I'll listen to what they have to say. It was a shame on Friday they chose to make their point in a different way."

Last year, 63 per cent of Highworth Warneford pupils gained five or more A*-C GCSEs. An inspection report last year found it was "an effective school".

A spokesperson for Swindon council said: "All schools have a policy for behaviour standards, and try to create an environment that is stimulating, where pupils can fulfil their potential."

Social outcasts, behaviour series in Friday magazine

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