Parents say they have had to remove their children from Nova Hreod Academy over concerns with the school’s approach to bullying, discipline and supporting pupils with special needs. 

But the academy insists its behaviour policy is in line with those adopted by other schools across the country and that it aims to “raise expectations of behaviour”.

Distraught mums have told the Adver how their children have become “shells” of themselves and allege that the approach to discipline is similar to an army camp. One parent told the Adver that her child had written suicidal notes and that he was “petrified” going to school.

They also claim that there is a lack of support available to victims of bullying. Another mum said her child was told that the school couldn’t help unless they named the bullies.

The parents of a Year 7 boy who has autism pulled him out of the school after seven-and-a-half weeks. He stopped eating for two weeks and wasn’t sleeping because he was so scared to go into school.

On his second day of secondary school, she says he was slapped with a detention. In his short time there, she says he was given detentions for reasons like dropping his pen on the floor three times in a lesson.

His mum says she sometimes spent four hours on the phone trying to get through to the school to understand what was happening. She alleges most of her emails were ignored and that when she pulled him out, she received a phone call three weeks later from an important staff member who didn’t know he’d left the school,

She said: “You can’t treat children with special needs like that.

“He was petrified and he’s quite a confident boy. One day he hid in the toilets.

“They were so strict even though they should be nurturing a Year 7.

“He felt trapped there and nervous and scared. I kept thinking, ‘where’s my son gone?’

He never had mental health problems before.”

Another parent told the Adver that their child was bullied, verbally and physically. She claims the school offered no support beyond asking the Year 9 student to name the perpetrators. 

She finally pulled her child out after 14 months when they told her they didn’t feel safe returning after the holidays.

She added: “I know parents who have the same story so we can’t all by wrong. 

“Our children were full of beans and then they became shadows of themselves as they tried to become invisible.

“The attitude is that bullying can be resolved only if you name and shame but that’s essentially making the victim a victim again.

“We’ve moved them now and they’re glowing but I’m worried about the kids who don’t tell their parents.”

The mum of another Year 7 girl, who she says was also getting picked on, alleges she had to wait over a week to hear from the school.

She claims her daughter also received eight “heavy-handed detentions” and two isolations in her term at the school for reasons like being too slow getting dressed after PE and forgetting her ruler.

“You need discipline but this was extreme," she said. "They were so strict.

“She threw a soft toy in the corridor and was sent into isolation for the whole day and given a detention. How does that justify missing a whole day of school?”

What the school says about the claims

A Nova Hreod Academy spokesman told the Adver: “These are important issues and the leadership team at the school do take very seriously anything that parents raise with them including these specific examples. 

“Whilst there are important elements of what you have been told that we do not recognise, we likewise have no wish to enter into a public disagreement with parents.  

“The policy was put in place because the school’s leadership team wanted to raise expectations of behaviour. It has proved successful with student outcomes improving and according to regular parent surveys conducted at the school, is supported by parents. 

“Likewise, parents and students are supportive of the school’s approach to handling bullying with, once again, this being demonstrated in surveys that the school undertakes.

“The school is fully committed to the welfare of its students and has a strong SEND provision. This has improved significantly over recent years and this may not be fully reflected in what has been put on Facebook. 

“Where mistakes are made, the school is always keen to learn from them, investigate them fully and do everything possible to rectify the situation with the family concerned.  
When students returned to schools after months of learning from home it has been important to re-establish the routines, behaviours and expectations.

“No good school wishes to have parents or students who are unhappy with how they have been treated and the head and the executive principal are always available to listen to concerns and do everything possible to rectify them. 

“The school regrets any incident where it has not been fully able to address a parental or student concern and will always act on and investigate any issues that are raised.”