School bosses are under fire over a scheme to fund sports equipment for children to play with at lunchtime that “separates the rich from the poor”.
Parents were each asked to pay an annual £6 voluntary fee per child at a West Midlands academy – but pupils from families which did not make a financial contribution were reportedly not allowed to use the equipment.
The move has been labelled “disgusting”, “bullying” and “discrimination” by parents and some have set up a petition calling for the scheme to be axed.
However, the headteacher of Wednesbury Oak Academy in Tipton has defended it, saying the equipment bag for “fun-time lunchtime play” is being run as an “extra” and the school is “outstanding”.
The petition claims pupils have been separated into groups of “paid” and “unpaid” students in the playground.
It said: “This has caused outright disgust from children, parents, grandparents, staff and such like.
“The parents that have paid and parents that haven’t are totally against the separation of the children as this can cause upset, bullying and social exclusion amongst other things.
“We therefore request the ‘scheme’ to be discontinued as it’s just not something that any of us wish to be associated with.”
Mother-of-two Kirsty Williams, 28, told the Express and Star: “We were asked to make the payment before Christmas but it was voluntary.
“It was a voluntary payment for sports equipment even though they had £9,000 for equipment. It is bullying really – they are separating the rich from the poor.”
According to the paper, an unnamed mother of three, branded the move “disgusting”.
She said: “I’m a parent and I found it really disgusting what’s going on. If you don’t pay the £6 the other kids can’t play with the equipment.
“We have to pay £6 a year, it’s per child, I don’t think this is fair. That is £18 that could go towards the uniforms.”
She went on: “It’s discrimination against the other kids, I don’t think it is fair especially the way they treated some of the kids.”
The school principal, Maria Bull, told the Express and Star: “This is a parent council initiative and the parent council came up with this way back in May 2017.
“We currently have 80 children whose parents have made this payment out of 450. To be fair the parents have had since May so as I say, they are running this for the 80 children concerned.
“It is not like the children haven’t got other equipment on the playground. It is being run as an extra, just like we ran extra activities, we run school discos as extra activities, we run all of this as a voluntary basis.”