Exmouth headteacher apologises over pupil role-play upset

PUBLISHED: 10:26 29 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:26 29 April 2016

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A headteacher who apologised to parents when pupils believed role-play was real has defended her tactics.

Pupils from Marpool Primary School were shocked, believing their lunch times would be cut – and playtimes scrapped altogether - when headteacher Rachel Pattison told them during assembly the council had stepped in to sanction the move.

Mrs Pattison turned to role-play in a bid to encourage pupils to express emotion and problem solve.

She apologised to parents on social media when some pupils became upset at home, believing the exercise to be real.

Mrs Pattison said future role-play exercises would go ahead, but the parents would be notified.

She said: “If I had told the parents [this time] I don’t think it would have had the same impact. Somebody would have let it slip through. If that had happened, we wouldn’t have had the same strong feeling.

“I expect in future I could say ‘I am going to provoke a reaction in the children, be prepared’.”

Many youngsters went home in tears, believing the council had cut lunchtime and scrapped playtimes altogether.

Mrs Pattison said a fake letter read to pupils during assembly had provoked strong reaction and thoughts.

She said role-play was used in the school to launch new topics and projects; this exercise had opened up discussions about democracy, tolerance, mutual respect and referendum.

“I wasn’t expecting the children to react as strongly,” Mrs Pattison said. “The children went home with such strong feeling; the parents equally had strong feeling about it.”

Mrs Pattison turned to Facebook to apologise to parents dealing with any backlash.

She wrote: “Please may I apologise if you have had to deal with any fall-out. I was not expecting such strong responses from the children.

“The quality of writing and the high level of conversation they have had has been brilliant. The letter is not real, but has formed a significant aspect of our role-play.

“In future, I will inform you if another role-play is to be used and thank you for your understanding albeit frustrating. Sorry.”

Parent Natalie Jenkins posted to Facebook: “A bit of shock but actually very cleverly done; teaching children to role-play in this way in a safe environment.”

Christine Lumley wrote: “I think it would have been enough to let them write letters in a hypothetical situation - not tell them lies and make many children distraught. Next time inform the parents before hand.”

Kirsty Hague posted: “Clever, but would have been nice to know to play along. Was the most stressed journey home ever with upset children.”

11 comments

  • My Son has recently moved to Marpool and all the staff have been amazing and have supported him and encouraged him. Children are all different and so I praise Marpool and especially Mrs P for trying different learning styles and activities to meet the needs of different children! How has a primary assembly made the news - (that may have upset a few childrenparents for a short period of time) yet the daily stress and pressure of exams and tests on our children is accepted and not headline news? The rates of young people with mental health difficulties is a headline I would love you to investigate?! Marpool is a great school and Mrs P deserves praise not persecution.

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    Jenna Burnett

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

  • Why have the paper picked up on this? It was a good exercise for the children. Marpool is a fantastic school. Moving my daughter there and my son starting from foundation has been a wonderful experience all round. I can't praise Mrs Pattision and the staff at Marpool enough. Well done for thinking outside the box and taking my children there too!

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    Tory Lewis

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

  • I am proud to be associated with Marpool Primary School! I'm so pleased I went with my instincts when looking at schools, it felt right almost immediately and fitted with my own beliefs, which has not changed after the 5 years my eldest son has been there and since my second son has also attended. Mrs Pattison is one of a kind and an inspiration to so many with regards to her teaching approach, ethos and management of the school! Furthermore, this ethos and approach is reflected throughout the school and through all other teachers and practitioners within the school. Moral of the story...papers talk such rubbish!

    Report this comment

    Kerry Woods

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • My boys and I love Marpool school and the opportunities provided. Mrs Patterson makes this a great school to send children too where they are encouraged to have an opinion and be inclusive of everyone despite any differences. It was a great activity to get the kids thinking and developing strategies for debating and standing up for their views and rights. Although it would be good to know in future in order to play along. There will always be some people this does not suit but all parents I know are very happy with the school and the teachers in general. Mrs Patterson deserves the communities support for all the hard work she puts in here. I for one am impressed and would highly recommend this school to anyone. How often do you see headteachers taking part with the kids in activities and also being available and approachable to parents and children alike, in the playground? It would be great for the papers to use 'good news' stories about this school but also to look at both sides before making a not so bad story more negative than it should be.

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    Vikki Fox

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • Shld read exmouth journal.

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    Tina D

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • So disappointed that a local paper has chosen a now old news story to undermine the excellent reputation and work of a local school and head. In the current climate surely we should be supporting teachers and headteachers who work hard to help our children develop despite an ever changing curriculum. I for one am pleased this was done. My eldest son learnt a very valuable lesson in how to get your voice heard and make changes! He has now also learnt not to trust the press and be careful what is put in public social media. Dont understimate the consequnces of filling space in a local paper ... It can have a significant impact personally and professionally. Shame on you Advertiser.

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    Tina D

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • Role-play is a good way to learn this day in age. My daughter as had nothing but support from the school lots fun ways to learn, so much to do, so much love and kindness everyone gives its unreal. Mrs Patterson is a fantastic head teacher and only want the best for her pupils. This is the best school is what I said by far.

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    Sarah Barrett

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • Marpool is an amazing school. They nurture, care about and educate each child as an individual and celebrate their uniqueness. When the children came home discussing this, yes they were upset, but it provoked high quality discussion and writing. It is such a shame that you have chosen to print such a negative article about something that happened a couple of weeks ago. It is even more distressing that rather than actually speak to the parents you have chosen to copy comments from a social media site. There is no better school for my children, when will you celebrate and print that?!

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    Tamsin Robertson

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • Totally blown out of proportion, you should be reporting on the wonderful things Marpool school does and the opportunities Mrs Patterson makes possible. My son is going on a residential to London soon and the week is jam packed with visits, outings, and fantastic activities. All four of my children have attended Marpool and I couldn't wish for a better primary school for them!

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    Kelsey Shepherd

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • This school is an amazing school..They have such great oppatunities and have great fun while they learn..The head and teachers are all amazing, This silly story has totally been blown out of proportion.. my kids came home all wound up about it but was soon put right and apologies made.. to us was end of story no harm done! Us parents are appalled at such a petit story making the news..shame on you exmouth journal

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    Tasha Oakley

    Friday, April 29, 2016

  • what a shame that a local paper chooses to print a negative story about a local school- my boys go to marpool and I would much rather read about some of the amazing things this head and her staff do rather than a non-story, blown out of proportion. There are always disgruntled parents but 99.9% of us don't feel that way about our children's great school

    Report this comment

    Kate White

    Friday, April 29, 2016

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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