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Oatlands Junior School apologises over 'ill-judged' topic for persuasive writing

Chair of Oatlands Junior School governors Chris Tulley, with headteacher Estelle Weir.
Chair of Oatlands Junior School governors Chris Tulley, with headteacher Estelle Weir.

Parents of children at Oatlands Junior School have demanded answers, after some year four pupils were asked to produce pieces of persuasive writing focusing on arguments in favour of the school’s plans to become a full primary.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Estelle Weir apologised for an “ill-judged” choice of topic for a lesson on persuasive writing.

Lynda Taylor, whose son is in year four, said: “I am extremely shocked that the school feels it appropriate to involve the children in such an emotive and divisive issue.

“Unless and until a final decision is made regarding the proposal, I do not believe the pupils should be involved in any discussions regarding the proposal. The children are at school to learn the curriculum, not to be used as tools to endorse the proposals. They are only nine years old and are unable to look at all the issues regarding the proposals to make an informed decision.”

Miss Weir said in the letter: “The intention was to use a topic relevant to the children and one that would capture their imagination. Unfortunately, in the case of 4G, this lesson was left to be delivered by a supply teacher, who focused on the supportive arguments.

“The letters were never intended for anything other than giving a real life purpose to the children’s writing and the work was to be kept in their books only. However, given the sensitivities around this topic, I can assure you that the children will now not be writing letters based on this content.

“It was never the intention of the team to forward these letters to Mr Tulley (chair of governors), and certainly not as evidence towards the business case. The Year 4 team and I are very sorry for the upset this may have caused.”