‘Media storm’ at Shoreham school

Holmbush Primary School, in Hawkins Crescent, Shoreham
Holmbush Primary School, in Hawkins Crescent, Shoreham

PUPILS’ research into the best learning environment has resulted in a ‘media storm’ at a Shoreham school.

Year-six children on the learning council at Holmbush Primary School carried out detailed research, including light and sound levels, and the benefits of shoeless learning, inspired by an international education expert.

Following a successful week-long trial in the autumn, shoeless classrooms were introduced in January.

But when a fire alarm sounded during recent wet weather, it prompted complaints that attracted the attention of national media.

Head teacher Rebecca Jackson said: “There has been quite a media storm at Holmbush, we had the Times and the BBC on the phone on Tuesday morning.”

She said it was disappointing to hear negative stories on shoeless classrooms, as the children involved in the research were ‘quite pleased with themselves about it’ and the scheme was not compulsory.

Mrs Jackson added: “Some children still wear shoes and most children have a pair of slippers in school. This is parental choice.

“Many schools in this country have begun adopting this approach, although you’ll also find lots about parents not liking it, which is odd because you don’t always wear shoes round the house at home.”

On Friday, April 25, as lunch was being prepared, the fire alarm began to sound at the Hawkins Crescent school.

It was not a fire drill and the whole school followed evacuation procedures, leaving quickly and safely.

Mrs Jackson explained: “Fortunately, it was not a fire. During the afternoon, children with wet socks or tights were given spare dry ones and theirs were dried.”

But grandmother Nikki May brought it to the attention of newspapers, after hearing about it by text from her daughter.

She said her five-year-old grandson had to stand outside in socks in the wet playground, then go barefoot indoors, spending the rest of the day with cold feet.

Mrs May said she had raised the issue with West Suusex County Council because of her concerns about the risks of treading on drawing pins.

“No one else seems interested,” she added. “When the policy first came in, my daughter went to the fire station because of her concerns and they couldn’t see the problem as the school would have had to do a risk assessment, which the parents could see if they had any concerns.”

The Herald met with members of the learning council in school on Wednesday. Look out for an exclusive report exploring their research in next week’s paper.