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School hits back at cruelty claims
A SCHOOL in Wilton has hit back at allegations of child cruelty, calling them “defamatory and erroneous” and “emphatically and categorically” denying that any such incidents took place.
Wilton Park School, which caters for students from the Brethren community, was accused in The Mail on Sunday of punishing students for setting up a Facebook page.
Quoting extracts from a dossier handed over to the newspaper by a teacher at the school, the article states that pupils were withdrawn from the school between the months of May and July 2012, and confined to their homes, with all communication forbidden with anyone outside their close families.
It states that the “only girl” in the group of six, aged 16 to 18, was “shut up” for the longest period and suffered “both mentally and physically” as a result. But a statement issued to the Journal by the school’s trustees says “it is completely untrue” to suggest that the “government registered and accredited school in any way acted upon directions or instructions from the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.”
In reference to the girl having been shut away for 37 days, the trustees said the “girl’s father was going through a difficult time and the girl’s agreed wish was to stay at home with her mother in support of the household”.
They added: “This was done with the full knowledge of the school, and the school provided educational resources and support so she could do her schoolwork at home temporarily.”
The article described the Brethren as a “Christian sect”, which considered laptops “instruments of evil” and said it failed to teach the National Curriculum. But the trustees said the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is “a mainstream Christian Church holding substantially the same doctrines as the Church of England” and that laptops are found in “nearly all Plymouth Brethren homes and businesses and are used in all Plymouth Brethren Schools”.
They added: “Computers and mobile phones used by Brethren members have restrictions to prevent access to the unrestricted and contemptible filth and corruption that we regard as evil and which is so readily available on these electronic devices.”
The trustees also stated that teaching at the school is almost entirely by non-Brethren professional staff and is based on the National Curriculum, adding the school “is completely open to unfettered inspection by relevant Government authorities at all times”.
And they denied children are subject to gender segregation at all times, saying boys and girls are taught together and take part in extracurricular projects and excursions. A Wiltshire Council spokesman confirmed a letter had been received raising concerns about the school. He said: “We take all allegations of child abuse extremely seriously and we will always investigate these matters. Following an allegation, the council works with partner organisations to take action to ensure that children are protected.”
Wilton Park School opened in September 2011, following the amalgamation of Tisbury School and Allbrook School.