OUTRAGED parents in Leamington are challenging ‘regressive’ rule changes at Trinity School.
The Catholic school – a state-funded secondary school and sixth form owned by the Birmingham Diocesan Trust – introduced an Interim Executive Board – in August to address financial difficulties.
But parents say decisions made by the board are undermining school values.
This includes a rule no longer allowing pupils to use teachers’ first names – a policy introduced by the school’s first principal Peter Hastings to reflect its values around equality.
Parent and former pupil James Sinnot said: “Trinity is a community of Catholic faith and learning, committed to nurturing educated, informed, fulfilled and socially responsible citizens who can play a positive role in the modern democratic world. It is a school for all types of students, from all different faiths – or no faith at all. We are a school committed to educating the children of Catholics; but also, all children in the Catholic way.
“The diocese have an agenda to change the ethos of the school and return it to a more traditional Catholic education with a regressive ethos.”
Parents say there was no consultation over the decision, which was made to safeguard against ‘over-familiarity’ and ‘trolling’ on social media.
A letter to parents from the school said: “We are concerned that by continuing to use first name terms at a time when social media is prolific, the school is not taking proactive measures to avoid over-familiarity and potential trolling via social media. Sadly, we now live in a society that needs to take steps to safeguard both staff and students.”
Other concerns included putting off potential new employees who may not be comfortable with the policy and to set ‘appropriate boundaries’ and establish the ‘correct culture’ within modern education.
But pupils said calling teachers by their first name made them more approachable.
One pupil said: “‘I found calling teachers by their first name in no way makes me familiar with them, and it is ridiculous to claim it is a safeguarding issue – this is just an excuse.
“If anything, it breeds respect and has made me feel more comfortable in approaching teachers. I find the changes being proposed regressive, when we should be moving forward.”
A petition with 1,4000 signatures has been handed to Warwickshire County Council calling for an investigation into the school and for any changes made to be halted while it is carried out.
County councillor Helen Adkins – whose children attend the school – is among those calling for the change – set to take effect in September – to be scrapped. She added many parents chose Trinity for its ‘unique and friendly ethos’ and the board had no ‘real understanding’ of how pupils and parents felt.
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has also pledged his support to parents.
A protest has been organised in Leamington’s Pump Room Gardens on Saturday at 2pm.