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Suthers School, Fernwood, defends pupil care during heatwave

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A school has defended its policy of pupil care during the heatwave, after complaints from parents.

The Suthers School, Fernwood, said it followed Department of Education guidance on Monday and Tuesday, when temperatures hit record highs.

Parents claim disciplinary action was taken against students who asked for water during lessons.

Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-7 (36255975)
Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-7 (36255975)

However, a school spokesman said: "In response to the Department of Education guidance that was sent out late last week in readiness for the heatwave and the extreme heat warning put out by the Met Office we, as a leadership team, worked over the weekend to update our school risk assessment.

"Part of that was how to monitor heat exhaustion and we did everything possible to mitigate a situation that would mean kids would be uncomfortable in this building and then off the back of that risk assessment we then rallied to place extra water stations around the school.

"Our main outside area is quite open to the elements so we didn't allow students into the sun, keeping them out of it by opening up our sports hall, auditorium and also the refectory for break times.

"We also had extra staff on duty to monitor the areas and make sure student were comfortable and in shade.

Close up pouring purified fresh drink water from the bottle on table in living room. (37482441)
Close up pouring purified fresh drink water from the bottle on table in living room. (37482441)

"Extra water stations alongside our existing water fountains were put in place so students were able to fill up water bottles throughout the day.

"Students are not sanctioned for leaving the classroom to go to the toilet or go for a drink, we just try to manage it so that they are doing so during break and lunchtime, because if they are in and out of classrooms all the time during lessons, it impacts on their learning."

"We were following national guidance to make sure all blinds and windows were shut to make sure that all heat was kept outside and not allowing it into the building.

A warning for extreme heat has been issued for the region. (58034651)
A warning for extreme heat has been issued for the region. (58034651)

The school said existing disciplinary policies were waived due to the exceptional circumstances, saying: "We put out briefing notices to staff on Sunday evening, Monday morning, Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. All of the usual instructions that we would have during the school day were dropped for those two day to allow student and staff to be comfortable.

"We had already relaxed the uniform policy prior to the two days, so we were ahead of the game compared to other schools in the area. We've had our students coming in PE kits for the last two weeks because of the heatwave."

"The risk assessment we worked on over the weekend allowed for extra water stations for students to refill water bottles during break and lunchtime, because we recognised that they would need to fill up more often."

Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-5 (36255980)
Suthers School, building work completed. 080620DD2-5 (36255980)

A parent emailed the Advertiser saying: "Please can you do a story on Suthers School in Fernwood not allowing children to have a drink of water in class time on heatwave days?! It is disgusting.

"One child was given disciplinary action (C3) for asking for water during class and others told it would be a distraction.

"The school has no air conditioning and is a hot box full of sunlit windows. These poor children should not be made to go in on days like yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday), let alone not allowed to drink water."

Others commented on the Advertiser Facebook page, saying: "Let's not forget the c3 for asking to leave class to fill up your water bottle like what happened yesterday!"

Another said: "So the c3s that were given out yesterday for asking to refill a water bottle during lesson to be told 'no' is good teaching?"

In response to the allegations, the school spokesman said: "We can't comment on what has been said between a student or a parent after they've gone home or what a parent may have posted on a Facebook page without our knowledge.

"I think it's really important to emphasise the point that the work was done to make sure that all of out students carry on with their education for those two days and carry on with their learning in the most comfortable environment that we can provide for them.

"There was constant communication between all involved to make sure that information and official guidance was pushed out to the parents to say make sure their children were coming to school with a sun hat, sun cream and water bottles so that they are able to replenish through the day."

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