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Student excluded from Spalding Grammar School after 'silent protest' over controversial bags policy




Jacob Ford with his 3,300-word 'document of defence' and a wicker basket which he used to carry his books, folders and equipment as part of a 'silent protest against the school's ban on large bags.Photo supplied.
Jacob Ford with his 3,300-word 'document of defence' and a wicker basket which he used to carry his books, folders and equipment as part of a 'silent protest against the school's ban on large bags.Photo supplied.

An A-Level student was excluded from Spalding Grammar for two days because he refused to hand over his mobile phone after a "silent protest" over the school'scontroversial ban on large bags.

Jacob Ford (17), of Holbeach, served a two-day exclusion for refusing to hand over the phone, which he used to keep his family informed of his treatment by staff at the Priory Road school.

The student, who was excluded by headmaster Steven Wilkinson on Friday, had previously written a 3,300-word "document of defence" stating his view that the school's ban on large bags, for health and safety reasons, was a "ridiculous rule change".

Our sister newspaper, the Spalding Guardian, reported two weeks ago on the school's restriction on bag sizes that sixth-formers could use and the shutting down of an online petition which had been backed by more than 460 people.

Jacob said: "Bags were never allowed in Years 7 to 11, but they were for sixth form students.

"This year, we had an assembly at the start of term where we were told that there was no change on the bags rule.

"Then two weeks later, we had another assembly where we were told that all bags were banned because of health and safety reasons after a Year 7 student had been accidentally hit by a bag.

"Later, the school softened the rule to allow girls to use handbags, while boys could use laptop and messenger bags.

"But most sixth-formers need to take folders, books, pencil cases, calculators and other items to and from school.

"We also have senior games lessons on Wednesdays when we can carry any sort of bag to school.

"So when we were told on Tuesday that the petition had been taken down because it gave the school and students a bad reputation, I wrote a 3,300-word document of defence for my views on carrying bags to school which I submitted to the headmaster, my form tutor, the head of sixth form and my head of house."

Jacob, who is due to sit A-Level exams in English Language, Maths and Art next year, took his opposition to the large bags rule further by carrying his books, folders and other items to school in different containers.

Spalding Grammar School. (2520996)
Spalding Grammar School. (2520996)

These included a wicker basket, saucepan, sandwich bags, part of a lawnmower and, on Friday, a microwave oven.

Jacob said: "On Thursday, I was called into the headmaster's office to discuss my document and was told that I had undermined my position by writing a serious report, only to follow it up by taking ridiculous items to school.

"I was told that I had a choice to make, either to have a serious discussion about the issue or to continue my rebellious streak and force the head to take me out of circulation.

"Then I found out that five of my peers had gone to the head's office to have a discussion about the bags rule, but I hadn't been invited to the meeting because of the way I'd been acting.

"Just after the meeting, I sent a text message to my brother and mum about my meeting with the head.

"Then on Friday, to continue making my statement in the issue, I put my books in a microwave and took it to school."

Jacob's protest led to him being "isolated", or sat in a corridor and kept away from other students, before he was eventually excluded.

He said: "After period one on Friday, a teacher went down to the head's office and told him everything I'd done.

"I was then told to go and see him at which point he explained that I was going to be put into isolation.

"Then he wanted to know who had told my mum that I'd been isolated.

"I wasn't sure what was going to happen but not handing in my own phone, I was excluded for breaching the school's trust.

"Spalding Grammar School has changed so much since Mr Wilkinson came three years ago and the new rules given to us have been ridiculous.

"But the bags policy is something that I feel really passionate about and, rather than knock my confidence,it's done the opposite because I'd never had any strong feelings about anything before now."

Tracy Ford, Jacob's mother, said: "I told my son not to hand over his phone because we are told that, by law, our children have to be in school and so I want to know where he is.

"We all have freedom of speech and this has been a silent protest by Jacob, although he has continued to attend school and hasn't gone against the bags rule.

"The school is penalising my son for having an opinion and what Jacob really wants is an apology from the school for not being listened to."

Mr Wilkinson said: "The facts that have been presented are far from the full picture.

Spalding Grammar School, Sam Grant and student Jack Carson behind Bentleian magazine,Sam Grant, head Steven Wilkinson,student Jack Carson in front of school with latest edition (4275041)
Spalding Grammar School, Sam Grant and student Jack Carson behind Bentleian magazine,Sam Grant, head Steven Wilkinson,student Jack Carson in front of school with latest edition (4275041)

Mr Wilkinson said: "The facts that have been presented are far from the full picture.

"We have a student who has behaved in an increasingly inappropriate way, actions the likes of which I have never witnessed, and who has been sanctioned entirely in line with the school’s policies.

"What disappoints me most is the fact that, rather than working with us, the parent concerned has encouraged and is now seeking to glorify her son’s behaviour."



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