VIDEOS: Row erupts over Totnes college's discipline of pupils in school uniform dispute
Parents have voiced their fury over a school's "draconian" punishment of children who protested over a school uniform row.
Pupils at King Edward V Community College in Totnes, South Devon, have had to spend up to two days working in isolation in a room known as "the bungalow" and have been barred from taking part in extra-curricular activities after they took part in a series of walk-outs and peaceful demonstrations, their parents said.
Some parents in the town, known for its artistic expression, say they are proud of their children's "courage" in highlighting their anger at "inadequate" consultation over introducing a school uniform from September.
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Head teacher Kate Mason announced a uniform would be introduced in light of a report that Keviccs students were perceived as "scruffy".
She said the school hosted a consultation, and responses "clearly favoured" a uniform. She has said mediation has been offered to the parents.
But some parents say the consultation was inadequate and should be repeated, and say the school declined their condition of mediation that the punishments be suspended.
Kate Paxman kept her 14-year-old son at home on the two days he had been ordered to spend in "the bungalow", seen by parents as the most extreme form of punishment before expulsion. He also missed out on paintballing and entry into a national art competition which he had been put forward for as a merit.
"He's very down at the way the school's management is behaving," she said.
"I was overwhelmed and proud and quite amazed at how courageous both my children were in taking part in peaceful protest, a democratic raising of their voice against a school which wasn't listening. These punishments are draconian – it's absurd."
Hundreds of children took part in three protests two weeks ago. Their actions included walking out of class and holding a rally where a 14-year-old performed the protest song she had written, which she has recorded for YouTtube. They also hung home-made banners from a footbridge.
A school fire alarm was set off during one of the protests and police were called, but did not stop the demonstration. One mother, who did not want to be named, said the children were "broken" by the reaction.
"They are so demoralised and despairing that it breaks my heart. There's this horrible atmosphere of fear – amongst the teachers as well as the children."
Mik Wells, whose 14-year-old daughter was barred from activities including Duke of Edinburgh Award training days this week, said the school reacted "emotionally" at a "perceived loss of control". He said they should have engaged with the children.
Devon County Council has said the matter was an issue for governors, who were due to meet last night.