School scraps playground 'rich and poor zones' for kids after outrage from parents

After a school made the decision to keep children from playing on playground equipment if their parents had not paid for it, creating ‘poor’ and ‘rich’ zones on the playground, the subsequent public outcry has forced them to call an immediate end to the ill-judged scheme.

The Mirror reported yesterday that a parent council at Wednesbury Academy in the West Midlands had asked parents for a voluntary donation of £6 per child so they could buy equipment for the school’s playground.

Well within their rights, some parents chose not pay the voluntary contribution.

The decision was then made by the school that children whose parents did not pay would have to play in another area of the playground.

Headteacher claims the school ‘doesn’t have any’ parents who cannot afford it

Understandably, some parents were outraged. However, headteacher Maria Bull appeared to defend the decision, explaining that a ‘couple of times a week’ a child whose parents had contributed could invite a friend to come and play with the toys.

Bizarrely, she also claimed that the school ‘didn’t have’ any parents who could not afford the £6 cost. How she knows the ins and outs of the 450 pupil’s parents’ financial situation is not yet clear.

In the interview with The Mirror, Mrs Bull said that it was the school parent council’s idea, not hers:

“We are running this as a lunchtime activity club. I wouldn’t ask parents to pay for another child’s after school club.”

Segregation

The decision led to some children being segregated from others on the school playground, creating what could be perceived as ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ zones.

Parent Angela Moore decided to take action and started a petition against the school in regards to the “no pay, no play” scheme. By yesterday evening, the petition had gained nearly 1000 signatures. Interestingly, the claims on the petition website tell a very different story to the one the headteacher shared.
 
According to Ms Moore, it was not only Mrs Bull’s idea to charge parents for the equipment but also when asked by the council what would happen if the parents didn’t pay, the headteacher had stated “If they don’t pay, they can’t play.”
According to Ms Moore, the parent council opposed the idea on the grounds it would be social and financial discrimination.

All should play or none at all

There could be many reasons behind a parents decision not to pay for the playground equipment. Perhaps they are struggling in today’s harsh economic climate. Recently, we have seen schools asking for a lot of financial help from parents, as they struggle to cope with the harsh cuts. However, the common consensus when raising money for an event is that if enough isn’t raised then the event is dropped.
 
Whatever the reason, it is at the parents discretion and the children should not experience segregation for their parents’ decisions.
Thankfully, the school has listened to the public outcry and ended the scheme with immediate effect. Talking to The Mirror, the school governors said:
“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.”
Hopefully, Mrs Bull has played close attention to the public response to her actions, and will consider them in future decisions and statements.

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