Raising The Stasi Of The Future?

The newly-opened Greenwich Free School has radically tough rules on phones, which involve searching pupils if there is “intelligence” they are carrying one and then confiscating it until the end of term.

But Lisa Wells claims her daughter Britney Staples was searched twice in one week, once by a male teacher with no female member of staff present.

‘Intelligence’..? Good grief, I can only hope they put a lot more of their efforts into teaching than they do running around acting like the cast of ‘Spooks’!

This is, of course, yet another of those ‘I agreed to the rules, but I didn’t think they meant it!’ cases:

Ms Wells, 42, of Charlton Park Lane, Charlton, said: “Her mobile phone was found in her possessionand they took it from her.”When I spoke to them they said I wasn’t allowed it back until the end of October.”

The legality of such action is questionable at best, which is why if you call their bluff they have no real choice:

The mum-of-five, whose other children are John Roan pupils, went into the school and persuaded them to hand the handset back.

It seems the teaching staff have a network to rival MI5 though:

But last week her daughter was searched again after claims she had been seen with a phone on the bus into school.

Seen by whom? A teacher? Another pupil?

Mum isn’t impressed:

She said: “My daughter needs a phone to keep her safe. She walks down Shooter’s Hill Road after school.”If she’s not back by 6pm I want to hear from her and make sure she’s OK.”

There’s actually a lot of sympathy for this viewpoint in the comments, which just goes to show how society has changed since my schooldays. Or has it? Maybe it’s just our perception of how it has changed, driven by the media?

Certainly, fewer parents were willing – in my day – to refuse to abide by school rules or attempt to subvert them, no matter how daft they might have appeared…

Ms Wells said: “I’m now trying to find out where she stands over going to a different school.

“I refuse to be blackmailed.”

She said: “I thought this was the right choice for my daughter.

“All schools have rules, I totally agree with that, but there are rules and there’s a prison camp.”

Actually, you aren’t allowed a mobile phone even in prison, but they still try to smuggle them in. Be glad the search stopped at a pat down!

The school admits it takes a hard lineon mobile phone use and is believed to be the only one in the borough with such a policy.A spokeswoman said: “We have a mobile phone policy all our parents are aware of and have signed up to.

“It’s about making sure our pupils are safe and can also learn in an environment with no distractions.

“Where we receive intelligence pupils are breaking our rules we will, firstly, ask them to empty their pockets and will check blazer pockets have been emptied, without any physical contact.

“Should we need to conduct a full search because pupils are being defiant, our clear policy is that the search would be conducted by a teacher of the same gender, with at least one other teacher present.”

And yet I can’t help wondering if there’s a reasonable compromise that the school could implement here, instead of a blanket policy that seems designed to encourage acceptance of surveillance and informing on your friends?

Or is that merely the long-term goal?

11 comments for “Raising The Stasi Of The Future?

  1. ivan
    October 18, 2012 at 11:08 am

    The school could use a mobile signal scrambler to blanket the area except such devices are not legal unless used by the likes of MI5/6 GCHQ.

    • October 18, 2012 at 11:50 am

      And would inconvenience the teachers too. Which is, I suspect, another reason it wouldn’t be contemplated…

  2. October 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Compromise schmompromise. It’s a clear rule and there’s really no particular need to break it other than a sense of entitlement to do whatever you think fit whenever you feel like it.

    If you are concerned about your child’s whereabouts after school, just give them 10p and get them to call you without fail, every day at some time before 4.30 from a payphone to say what they are going to do and when they’ll be home. If they ever depart from the agreed plan, embarrass them to high heaven by going into code red mode and calling up all their friends’ parents and driving round their known haunts until you pick them up. They won’t do that again in a hurry.

    • October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

      With the rise of the mobile, there are fewer and fewer call boxes.
      Of course, the real problem is this ‘need’ to be in contact with your child at all times.

      • David A. Evans
        October 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm

        It’s the perception of increased danger to children these days.

        In fact the dangers are no greater than when we were children and, as illustrated the other week in Machynlleth, the main danger comes from friends & family.

        Stranger abduction is very rare.


        • October 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm

          Indeed. The biggest threat is the hysteria and fear of paedogeddon. The reality is remarkably mundane – and hasn’t changed significantly in half a century.

          Around half a dozen children are abducted and murdered each year from a population of over 60 million. The risk is low. The likelihood is low. And, as you say, stranger abduction is extremely rare.

          • Tatty
            October 19, 2012 at 9:20 am

            LR – The biggest threat is the hysteria and fear of paedogeddon.

            By far the biggest threat to children round here is other children. The daily violence inflicted by the sociopathic offspring of drug addicts attacking easy targets…including adults…in an effort to be top of a shitty heap might be amusing if it weren’t so ultimately pointless.

            As adults go one of our favourite games on the walk to primary school and back was “Spot-The-Smackhead” and they….along with the alcoholics staggering along clutching Stella cans escorting thier offspring ….are noisy, violent and unpredictable though thankfully easily spotted and avoided. By their own children, too.

            At the higher end of the scale the kidnap, rape and murder of a toddler when my two were small…not the Jamie Bulger case, another one involving a female child…utterly rocked this area for years afterwards.

            I could go on but won’t bore you save to conclude that National statistics, historical evidence and media hysteria count for little over experience. I guess your attitude to child safety…and how you deal with it…depends on where you live.

            I’d hazard a guess though that those actually living with “stranger danger” daily are a lot more relaxed…since their “fear” is well-founded and carefully managed…than you’d think.

      • Tatty
        October 19, 2012 at 8:57 am

        Julia – “this ‘need’ to be in contact with your child at all times.

        Ah now, that works both ways. Both mine carry mobiles to and from school and use it in school to text requests. For tea, mainly, though my son once texted me from the frickin’ bathroom…I was downstairs in the living room….to inform me we had run out of toilet roll.

        If I don’t answer a text that contains a text in one minute flat it is followed up by a phonecall which…since they are on pay-as-you-go and I’m on a contract…the onus is on me to return.

        Time and again I’ve made clear that sometimes “the maid” is busy…or even off-duty…so be patient !!!!.

        But woe betide either of them if I cannot get hold of them if they are **late home…which is what the damn things were meant to be for….from my point of view anyway. 😉

        **We have enough criminals of our own walking the streets without having to deal with the world’s detritus flitting in and out of our towns at will. The hysteria of media has much less to do that opinion than the hard facts of experience that growing up around the docks… with it’s rich “diversity” of lessons to be learned and passed down from generation to generation…can and does teach. For me, mobile phones are simply another tool in the box.

  3. Twenty_Rothmans
    October 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    I had some sympathy until I saw the name of her sprog.

    The compromise would be a cloakroom, such as at the theatre or opera. It’s customary to tip a couple of pounds. I’m sure mother-of-five Miss Wells would be okay.

    Hang on,her daughter has a different surname!

    Oh, of course, she’s remarried, but refers to herself as ‘Ms’ for career reasons. All clear now.

    I can guess her career.

  4. Penseivat
    October 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Surely, unless the young lady’s path to home is close to a BBC building, there is no real danger?

    • David A. Evans
      October 18, 2012 at 11:43 pm


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