Tough inner-city London school blasts ITV for 'unfair' report

A tough inner-city school where pupils in detention were branded 'detainees' has hit back at ITV saying they will report them to Ofcom over an 'unfair and unbalanced' report that revealed the claims.

Hackney New School brought in 'Britain's toughest headteacher' Barry Smith last February to improve standard after the east London school was described as unsafe in an Ofsted report.

Since the start of this year more than 7,500 detentions - an average of 80 a day - have been handed out to students. And on one day last year over 150 pupils - around half of the school - were reportedly given detentions.

Emails sent by a teacher referring to children as 'detainees' were leaked with four present and former staff complaining the new approach is damaging pupils' mental health.

After an ITV London crew visited the classrooms, school bosses said they were taking their complaints to the broadcast watchdog, claiming the report was 'neither balanced nor fair'.

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The school says it has 'nothing to add' about the complaint, which is likely to centre around ITV's decision to broadcast contested claims from unnamed teachers that students were given detentions for not smiling or shuffling their feet.

Joynab Sultana, assistant headteacher at Hackney New, said she accompanied reporters from ITV around the school and claimed they refused to speak to students or staff and had 'made their minds up' before arriving. 

In February last year, the trust hired controversial teacher Barry Smith, pictured, in a consultancy role to help tackle poor behaviour, with teachers handing out thousands of detentions

Headteacher Charlotte Whelan insists the school is now a 'calm and structured environment where students can thrive'

In February last year, the trust hired controversial teacher Barry Smith, pictured, in a consultancy role to help tackle poor behaviour, with teachers handing out thousands of detentions. Headteacher Charlotte Whelan insists the school is now a 'calm and structured environment where students can thrive'

Mr Smith referred to students as “detainees” in this email from March

Mr Smith referred to students as “detainees” in this email from March

She tweeted after the broadcast at the weekend: 'I offered to show them more classes and the opportunity to speak to staff and students who have experienced both the old and new leadership to convey that we've nothing to hide.

'However, this offer was declined. They had no intention to offer a balanced and objective report. What's clear is that the team at ITV had made up their minds well before their visit to the school.'

Hackney New School was taken over by the Community Schools Trust in November 2019 following a damning Ofsted report which forced the school to shut because it was 'unsafe' for students.

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