A SCHOOLGIRL was made to work in a cupboard as punishment for not wearing the correct shoes to school.
Charlotte Owen said she sent her 15-year-old daughter Lauren, a pupil at Ysgol Rhiwabon in Ruabon, to school last Monday with a note explaining to teachers she was unable to afford new school shoes until her payday.
The school said no such note was received and Ms Owen, a single parent of four, got a phone call from the school at about 3pm saying Lauren would be made to work in isolation the following day if she was not wearing the correct shoes.
But when eldest daughter Lauren got home, Ms Owen was “disgusted” to find out she had been made to work alone in a storage cupboard for an hour because there was not enough room for her anywhere else.
Lauren, of Acrefair, who wants to be an architect or interior designer when she finishes school, said: “I didn’t like it very much. It was very cramped and very lonely.”
Ms Owen had a meeting with deputy headteacher Melanie Ferron-Evans the following day and received an apology, as well as promises it would not happen again.
She said: “I think it is beyond a joke.
“If she had been unruly, I’d support the school, but they have gone way too far.”
“She loves school and she’s in all the top classes. She goes to college once a week and she is doing really well for herself.
“You can ask any teacher and they all say she is a pleasure to teach.”
Ms Owen has now submitted a formal complaint to the school.
In an email to Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd, seen by the Leader, Ysgol Rhiwabon headteacher Alun Harding said: “I have been advised by the teacher concerned that there had not been a note to inform her the reason Lauren was in the wrong footwear was financial.
“Similarly, the ‘cupboard’ referred to is an ex-storeroom that has been cleared out that staff and students have often worked in.
“However, we fully accept that this was not ideal in Lauren’s circumstances. Both the teacher concerned and a senior member of staff have already apologised in person to both Lauren and her mother if she was distressed in any way.
“The financial situation of our parents is a consideration we take very seriously. We had offered Lauren’s mother financial support to purchase a new pair of school shoes as we were keen to avoid any additional stress being created.
“Furthermore, we have offered financial support for numerous parents who are struggling at this time of economic difficulty.”
A spokesperson on behalf of the school and the Local Education Authority said: “We are currently awaiting a formal complaint from the parent, which will be dealt with in accordance with the school’s formal complaints’ procedure.”
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said children should not be punished at school if families cannot afford the right uniform.
Mr Gruffydd said: “There’s an issue here around basic human rights in terms of pupils finding themselves a victim for something that’s quite frankly beyond their control.
“There are genuine circumstances, at times, when they are not at fault.”