A primary school in the UK has sparked outrage for segregating children on different playgrounds, dividing them between those whose parents paid for new playground equipment and those whose parents didn’t.
Wednesbury Oak Academy, outside Birmingham, England, instituted the new policy on Jan. 3 after giving parents months to pay the £6-($8.10-)per-child donation for the new playground equipment, the Mirror reports.
Of the roughly 450 students in the school, about 50 parents paid the fee.
The parent council at the West Midlands school asked for a voluntary donation for the equipment, but parents allege that it was the principal who decided children whose parents hadn’t paid couldn’t use the new recess toys.
The school purchased a soccer ball, a rugby ball, a slinky, two jump ropes, and some tennis balls with the money, Principal Maria Bull told the Mirror.
According to Bull, children whose parents hadn’t paid could be invited to play with the equipment a couple times a week by children whose parents had paid.
The segregation during the lunchtime recess has caused an uproar with parents and staff, who started a petition calling it a “no pay no play” scheme.
“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,” the petition reads. “We therefore request the ‘scheme’ to be discontinued as its just not something that any of us wish to be associated with.”
As of Jan. 10, the petition had just over 1,000 signatures.
Many of the people signing the petition called the scheme “disgusting” and “outrageous.”
“I’m all for parents helping out if they can afford to, but the thought of a child being stopped from playing with equipment and friends just because their parent can’t afford the £6, on top of all the other money they have to pay out every school year, utterly disgusts me!” wrote petitioner Sharon Jarvis.
According to Bull, the school “didn’t have” any parents who could not afford the £6 per year cost, and they had had “eight months” to pay, she told the Mirror.
She said she was considering contacting the police due to the comments she’s received on Facebook.
“Parents have behaved in a highly threatening manner on Facebook, telling me ‘I need a good slapping.’ This is not the way to behave,” she told the Mirror.
“We have systems in place where parents can come and address their concerns.”
Local MP for the area, Adrian Bailey, said, “Sandwell schools are facing a financial crisis due to cuts in Government funding.
“Schools should not be put into a position where they are forced to approach parents for contributions for equipment that would usually be paid for using the school’s mainstream budget.”
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