Pupils without 100% attendance sent to the back of the lunch queue

Falcon lunch

Pupils without 100 per cent attendance or a clean behaviour record are allegedly being forced to the back of the queue for lunch at a secondary school.

Immanuel College in Bradford, run by the Bradford Diocesan Academy Trust, introduced a new behaviour system in the summer term of last year, in which pupils begin each term with two badges – one for good behaviour, and one for 100 per cent attendance.

Pupils who misbehave or take time off can lose one or both of their badges. But this term the school introduced a new policy that gives lunchtime priority to those pupils who still have both badges, a concerned parent told Schools Week.

Pupils with two badges go for lunch first, followed by those who have lost their 100 per cent attendance badge, and then those who have lost their behaviour badge. Pupils who have had both badges removed eat last, it was claimed.

READ MORE: No evidence for “no excuses” behaviour policies

The parent, who did not want to be named, likened the system to the methods used to control behaviour in prisons and said his son has been separated from his friends at lunch as a result of being ill for a few days and losing his attendance badge.

“He was upset about it. He has a small group of friends and doesn’t see them, and feels being ill was ‘wrong’,” he said, adding that the school had not told parents about the change in policy.

Despite repeated requests for comment on the lunchtime prioritisation strategy, the trust refused to give any further details.

Dr Mary Bousted, the joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said perfect attendance “will always be difficult” due to “inevitable absences from school due to illnesses”, and said pupils with regular absences should be checked on to ensure they were not facing “serious long-term problems” and should be dealt with in a “supportive way”.

Immanuel College joined BDAT in February 2016. A short Ofsted inspection in January found it was still “good” and stated that the school had “rightly identified that the levels of persistent absence for a small number of pupils who are disadvantaged remains too high”.

A spokesperson for the school said the badge system had already helped in “raising attendance levels and improving behaviour”.

“It is popular with our students who take pride in wearing their badges,” she said.

Recent figures show that absence rates are higher for pupils who are eligible for free school meals (7.3 per cent), compared to non-FSM pupils (4.2 per cent). Pupils with a statement of special needs or education, health and care plan also have higher absence rates than their peers.

It is popular with our students who take pride in wearing their badges

The BDAT spokesperson added the “incentive programme … does take into account individual pupil context around attendance and has been designed to highlight to students the importance of attending school”. They didn’t provide any further details.

Schools have previously faced criticism for using lunchtime restrictions as punishment.

Last year Mount Pleasant Primary School in Shrewsbury was criticised after sending a newsletter to parents warning that pupils would only be offered bread, fruit and water if they had an outstanding lunchtime debt of £6.60 or more.



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  1. Patricia Everett

    All children who have time off school because of illness , hospital appointments , this is so they are victimised…..through no falt of their own. Some schools also stop them for going on school trips….. And when they grow older and have mental health issues… You will wonder why!!!

  2. anne brown

    So this school is happy to discriminate against young people with long term health conditions and disabilities that mean they need time off school for doctors appointments. What a wonderful ‘Christian’ attitude they’re showing and an example they’re setting to their pupils.

    • Lorraine cross

      If as parents or carers we abused and discriminated against our children in this way, the school would be very quick to report and children’s services investigate! As this is a school and state it is a behaviour stragedy they get away with it! Nothing new there then where double standards are concerned.

    • christopher smith

      Indeed. The DfE is in contravention, or trivialisation at least of his HR rights obligations, both domestic and international. It starts with the obsession to the exclusion of everything, uniform, which in turn predicates the further abuse you describe. I am hesitant to tread further given your considerable experience. However the uniform is in my mind the root to all of this. There is no law but the DfE know that parents comply. They are guilty of blackmail. The fact that the Treasury is a main beneficiary compounds the obscenity. It needs the ECHR again, as in the flogging.

  3. The most vulnerable children in society will be the ones who are abused, carers, neglected, have educational or additional needs.
    School is a place of sanctuary for all these students. We should be supporting these kids and creating a nurturing environment for them.

  4. Ann Quantrill

    Absolutely disgraceful, I do not have school age children anymore but to discriminate against illness is surely an offence, as it is with a disabled person and does this also apply to teachers who are absent as well, I’d be interested to know.

  5. Fay Belham

    I am shocked that this is genuinely happening. My son was born with a congenital defect – he has trouble eating – is often ill. If he were at this school he would be penalised and made to feel even more self conscious about his differences. Surely this would be classed as discrimination? What are schools teaching children by this? To pick on the weak and vulnerable by the sounds of it. Horrified!

  6. christine charles

    oh so wrong . so the young people who are late and absent often due to bad parenting eg the kids that are kept awake with parents fighting and drugs drink problems these kids are also the ones to leave the home without breakfast. school is often sanctuary for some kids , oh what are you doing to these kids. they will be kids at the back of the line who know hunger.
    I worked in school with socially excluded young people I will give you a couple of examples of lateness and absence. child 1 lived with gran got her up and gave her breakfast then ran around a mile to dads and gave him his meds (mental illness)then went to school usually late got fed up of being told off so stopped going when running late 14 years old . child 2 abuser was released from prison started getting on the same bus in the morning so child got on later bus . teachers were unaware of these problems until our team went into school to work with them . we stopped putting kids in the corner we stopped the dunce cap and you a Cristian school dream this one up , take their badge off them and send them to the back of the line .

  7. Tom Jones

    This is the same MAT that has already been talked about with their plans to remove teachers’ Burgundy book conditions in order to save money. They are currently in dispute with the Unions and staff, despite efforts to stop teachers meeting with their representatives.

  8. What about kids with problems like autism, who miss school regularly because the school cannot provide the learning atmosphere that they need, and so through no fault of their own they cannot cope? Then the school makes it worse by punishing them, which they will not understand?
    This is all kinds of wrong.

  9. Rachel

    What do I think? I think this is blatant discrimination again disabled children, a surefire way of disadvantage get those already struggling with obstacles to accessing education and a potential trigger for food related mental health crises. I hope the parents throw the book at the architects of such a wilfully ignorant and cruel policy.

  10. Kirsty Firmin

    Quite frankly I’m disgusted. How to stigmatise and exclude children with long term health problems all in one fell swoop. Some children ( mine included) have conditions that require numerous hospital appointments , is this there fault? Shall we punish them for being unlucky enough to be born with this condition. I would hope that children with long term health problems would be excempt from this….but what about your typical child who has typical childhood illnesses? Is it there fault also..I’ve always found the 100% attendance thing strange…let’s reward children for being lucky enough to not catch an illness etc!!!
    What about the illnesses that the school’s have rules on. I.e if a child is unlucky enough to vomit at school, you are asked to pick them up and not return them until 48 hours after their last vomit?. What about chickenpox? Etc etc I wonder if the staff are under the same scrutiny?. I find the idea of children being punished like this abhorrent, this kind of segregation has no place in modern society.

  11. Ofsted did a short inspection in January and said ‘attendance rewards’ had been introduced at the College to help combat poor attendance. These were not described and there was no mention of pupils being segregated in the dinner queue based on attendance and behaviour.
    Perhaps inspectors should have asked more questions about these attendance rewards.
    The college retains is pre-conversion (2012) good rating.

  12. So schools are neglecting safeguarding duties. Discrimnating and encouraging bullying. These are the issuues to be addressed not a home education monitor.

    How much play time do kids actually get?

    What support for learning do they get? And the government wonder why people remove their kids from school.

    Address the school system more will stay.

  13. Jean Vidler

    Lunchtime should be a break and a chance to socialise. How awful to be doubly discriminated against and sent to the back of the queue. The disadvantaged children can only benefit from good nutrition in a loving atmosphere.