A GROUP of angry parents have blasted their kids' super-strict school where asking to go to the toilet lands pupils in detention.
Astrea Academy Sheffield, which caters for children aged between two and 18, has been compared to a "prison camp".
The institution has a points-based system where kids can be punished for "offences" such as talking in the corridor or failing to put their hand up high enough, according to some parents.
One mum told The Star how her child has diabetes and was punished for turning around in the dining hall to seek help from a friend when her blood sugar level dropped.
Others claim asking to go to the toilet landed their child in detention.
The group of parents, who wish to remain anonymous, say their children are being unfairly punished and it's impacting their mental wellbeing.
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One parent said: “My son’s gone from being a happy kid three years ago when he joined the school to the most depressed, sad kid I’ve ever seen."
Another mother described how her daughter ‘goes to school crying and comes home crying every day’, and a third said: “My daughter’s told me that she doesn’t want to go to school, she wants to move school. She was crying. She’s changed, she has so much stress and anxiety.”
The system rewards or punishes 'negative' and 'positive' behaviours.
It's claimed two negatives can land a child with a 45 minute detention while four means a 90 minute detention and a whole day in isolation.
And while the school rewards positive behaviours, the group of concerned parents say there is much great emphasis placed on the negatives.
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One parent shared a letter written by her seven-year-old daughter, also shared with Ofsted: “If you value, the sanity and mental health of your child please do not send your child to this school.
"I cannot stress enough about how much you need to avoid attending this school if the rules are going to continue. I feel like this school is like a jail, and for me and others we feel like we are being pressured and miserable attending.”
The parents claim they have approach the school, which opened in 2018, several times with their concerns but have been shunned away.
One mother even said she was told "we’re not forcing you to keep your child here".
Several said how they would love to take their child out of Astrea but there is nowhere else to send them.
The parents soon realised it was a wide-spread issue – not just a few 'naughty' children being targeted – so they decided to escalate the matter to the education watchdog Ofsted.
The parents claim up to 200 pupils a day are being kept back with one adding: “We want discipline and rules for our children but this feels like a prison camp."
It's claimed the system, which has been in place since the schools inception, was made even worse this year when the requirement for a detention was reduce from five negatives, to two.
A spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “Ofsted does not comment on or confirm whether we have received complaints about an individual school. However, we always take any concerns shared with us seriously and carefully consider what action we may need to take.”
A spokesperson for the school said: “At Astrea Academy Sheffield we have high expectations for all scholars.
"We maximise learning time and ensure a calm, safe and purposeful environment, where all our scholars can learn and all our teachers can teach, free from disruption.
"Since September 80 per cent of points awarded have been for positive reasons.
“The partnership between us, our scholars and their families is essential.
"We communicate weekly with our parents and carers through a newsletter which shares any key information and updates.
"There is an open invitation for all families to book to come into school on any day of the week between 9am and 10am where they will receive a guided tour and get to see learning in action.
“We were not invited to the recent meeting and were only made aware of this afterwards.
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"We have received no concerns following this meeting. We have made contact with Councillor Dawn Dale to invite her to visit the academy for a tour and a date is confirmed for this half term.
"We encourage parents to raise any concerns with us directly so we can address these on an individual basis.”
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