Parents fuming as another school implements a ‘hands behind backs’ walking rule

Mums and dads left 'upset' and 'angry' as head demands kids as young as 4 comply

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It’s left some parents claiming it’s reminiscent of ‘Victorian times’, while others have branded it ‘Draconian’ and like a ‘boot camp’.

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Yet headteacher Emma Taylor, from Market Harborough Academy in Leicestershire, is adamant that her school’s new rule – of making children walk with their hands behind their backs – simply promotes safety. 

In a letter to parents, the head said that the policy was put in place for the ‘safety’ of youngsters, and to promote a ‘calm’ atmosphere.

She added that it was ‘one of a range of strategies to help children develop good behaviour and good habits and to establish secure routines’.

Furious mums and dads are not buying it, however, with some telling the Mirror that it was just not appropriate for such young children. 

“It’s far too much when they’re only four and just getting used to school in the first place,” said one, whilst another claimed it was ‘Draconian’ and ‘like a boot camp’, adding that it is “2017, not the dark ages”.

One dad said he had raised the issue with the school on behalf of all the outraged parents. 

The Market Harborough Academy is not alone in it’s attempts to keep pupils moving along in an orderly fashion though.

We previously reported how kids at St George the Martyr Primary School in Holborn, central London, were ordered to adopt a hands-clasped-behind-the-back pose – known as the “University Walk” – when walking down corridors.

The school’s executive head teacher, Angela Abrahams, said at the time that the rule will keep kids safer, raise their aspirations and make the most of their learning time.

Ms Abrahams also claimed the school has seen a 93 per cent reduction in the number of recorded incidents since the walk was introduced.

“Our recently introduced ‘University Walk’ inspires children to be the best they can be and to ‘go shine in the world’ (the school’s motto),” she said.

“It was introduced to strengthen pupil safety, further raise the aspirations of pupils and to maximise learning time. Staff report that they appreciate the impact it has had on learning time and pupils continue to be very happy and excited about learning.” 

But like the Market Harborough parents, St George’s mums and dads were not happy, either, viewing the rule as an attack on personal freedoms.   

Mum Chantal Aster told local paper the Camden New Journal: “I am personally quite against it, I think it’s too dictatorial. It’s from one extreme to another. My son is in reception and they walk in a conga line. I think it is a pretty poor way to increase their self-esteem.”

She added: “I think just having hands by their sides would be more natural. I know it’s only through the corridors but I think it’s too restrictive and I find it very repressive.”

Carly Taylor, who has three children at the school said: “The head is bringing over lots of strategies that are not in keeping with the nurturing and caring feel of our school. I think our identity needs to be protected. Hands behind the backs is associated with a loss of liberty and lack of trust”.

Others, however, see no problem with the rule: mum Alyekker Aber said, “People are making out it’s such a big deal. Children learn that you keep your hands to yourself, you have self-control, you have discipline.

“If it were an independent school no one would question it. If you go into the corridors of Eton would you find something different? Would you find it more lax there?”

And Natalia Ohana said, “When I heard about this rule, at first I was really scared. I asked for a meeting with Angela Abrahams and she explained to me the rationale behind it.

“It’s only about feeling safe and the child feeling centred. My children don’t feel they are prisoners. Angela Abrahams in my opinion is an excellent headteacher. She is insightful.”

Reverend Guy Pope, the school’s chairman, commented, “I think parents are not looking out for the best interests of their children. It (the rule) is helping to make sure children arrive in class in the best possible frame of mind for learning, in a calm and ordered manner.”

What do you think?

Has this now become a ‘thing’ in schools? Does your school have a how-to-walk rule?

Is the ‘Oxford Don’ cliche style of walking a good way to stop kids running? Or do you think it would make kids feel as though they’ve been handcuffed and detained for questioning down the local nick? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook.

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