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School accused of behaving 'like North Korean gulag' after pupils ordered to be SILENT when walking to lessons

A school has been accused of behaving 'like a North Korean gulag' after pupils were ordered to be silent when walking to lessons.
Students at Ninestiles School, an Academy in Acocks Green, Birmingham, will be expected to move around the building in silence during change over times.
The punishment for breaking the corridor rule will initially be a 20-minute detention but failing to adhere to the rule repeatedly will "result in an appropriate escalation of sanctions".
Parents were informed of the new procedure in a thorough letter, explaining how things are going to run.
But some have described the rules as "oppressive" saying the school 'will feel more like a prison'.
The school, which caters for 1,345 pupils aged 11-18 and rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted inspectors, wrote to parents on October 16.
The letter said: "Once the school day has commenced with tutor time at 8.40am all student movement including to and from assembly, at lesson changeover and towards communal areas at break and lunch will be carried out in silence.
"Students will leave school in silence following the conclusion of their last lesson."
Despite the talking ban, the school insists pupils will be able to "relax and socialise" in allocated speaking areas.
Furious parents have blasted the policy, which is due to come into force when the pupils return from half-term on November 5.
One dad said: "Parents are dead against this 'silent corridors' cobblers. It's oppressive and utterly unnecessary.
"Children are supposed to talk and school is supposed to encourage social skills as well as teaching them facts.
"Why does the school want to teach children to be mute zombies?
"In workplaces people chat and speak to each other, why not at school? It's a place of learning and exploring ideas, not a North Korean gulag or a monastery."
Another mum said: "After spending an hour in class, mostly in silence, kids need to let off steam and chat to their mates while walking to another class. What's wrong with that?
"I think most of the parents are very much against this silent rule and I can't see how it improves either behaviour or helps pupils' development."
Other parents accused the school of "alienating pupils" and makes the school "feel like a prison rather than a place of learning."
Acting co-headteachers Alex Hughes and Andrea Stephens have defended the policy, saying it will be reviewed at the end of the Autumn term.
In a joint statement, they said: "Ninestiles is committed to the highest standards of behaviour and we know that students arriving to lessons ready to learn can be further supported by doing so in silence at certain points in the day.
"This is already an expectation for arrival at exams and during fire drills and, as such, is simply an extension of that code of behaviour.
"We will review this change at the end of Term 2 and the views of our students, parents and carers will be welcomed as part of that process."

The letter to parents and carers in full:

"Dear parents and carers,
"We are writing to share with you the news of an important change to our school behaviour policy with which we are keen to have your support.
"We will be involving students in this change and asking them to work with us to make this initiative a real success for everyone's benefit.
"At Ninestiles, An Academy we believe that outstanding conduct and behaviour is vital to student progress and achievement; it underpins the learning environment we expect and that our students and staff deserve.
"Excellent standards of behaviour need to be maintained throughout the school day, both in lessons and during unstructured time such as break and lunch.
"This ensures that the school functions in an orderly manner and that students are fully prepared to make outstanding progress in lessons. Great behaviour results in safe and happy students and staff.
"We know that behaviour is already of a high standard but we want and expect more from our learners, and so from Monday 5th November students will move around the building in silence during change over times.
"This will ensure students arrive calmly and ready to learn and staff can give out any information they need to swiftly and easily.
"Once the school day has commenced with tutor time at 8.40am all student movement including to and from assembly, at lesson changeover and towards communal areas at break and lunch will be carried out in silence.
"Students will leave school in silence following the conclusion of their last lesson.
"Please rest assured that at break and lunch times, students will still be able to relax and socialise with their friends once they reach the communal areas of the Greenwood Restaurant, Social Space, New Eating Area or the MUGA and field.
"All internal areas of the school will have clear signage to indicate that noise is not permissible once the school day has started, and members of staff will be on duty to remind students of the policy and support them to ensure they understand and follow the rules.
"The sanction for breaking the silent corridor rule will initially be a 20-minute detention; any repeated failure to follow the school policy will result in an appropriate escalation of sanctions.
"We have written to you in advance of the implementation of this policy as we realise that this marks a change to our current practice and we know that it is important to share key messages with you as partners in the success of your children, our students.
"Please do not hesitate to contact us at principal@ninestiles.org.uk if you need further clarification. Many thanks for your support in this matter.
"Best wishes,
"Alex Hughes and Andrea Stephens
"Acting Co-Heads of School."

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