Letter of the week: no lack of compassion at Ashlawn School

Dear Editor

I am writing regarding a report from last week about the withholding of an Ashlawn School pupil’s GCSE results over an unpaid lunch fine – a common policy at the county’s schools. The story implied the school displayed a lack of compassion in requesting the debt be paid by not taking the pupil’s circumstances and ill health in to account.

No one was available from the school to comment on this incident at the time, however, I would like to outline the school’s position and reassure readers that the welfare of all pupils at the school is a priority for us.

The story reported about one of our pupil’s lunch fines does not give a balanced view. We would like to state that all our pupils are made aware of outstanding fines and the consequences, including this individual. The pupil was not banned from collecting his results, just reminded of the outstanding debt.

We have the same policy for all our pupils, it is not about the sum of money or a lack of empathy for this pupil’s circumstances and we believe the request to pay the outstanding fee to the canteen was fair.

We would also like to take this opportunity to respond to the national coverage of this incident which has been embellished and sensationalised at the expense of accuracy.

Had we been available for comment we would have confirmed we would never allow our pupils’ health to be compromised as these national reports imply. We don’t feel it is appropriate to go in to much of the content but can confirm that the individual concerned missed less than two weeks of school due to illness not three months as reported. He did not suffer a heart attack in an exam as reported, he was taken ill but was authorised by his mother to walk home on that occasion.

In many aspects, the national stories were unhelpful to the school as well as the individual and his family. We wish this pupil all the best as he continues his education.

Lois Reed

Headteacher, Ashlawn School