The Isle of Wight County Press, has come under heavy fire from Sandown Bay Academy pupils and staff for last week’s front page report, which labelled the school an “Academy of Misery”.
The article claimed that “bullying, job cuts and out-of-control students are part of the miserable state of Sandown Bay Academy”.
Upset and outraged by the article based on claims made by just one staff member (out of 180), pupils and teachers have shared their views on the school’s Website.
The responses include criticism for “terrible reporting”, with the article being labelled “ridiculous and unacceptable” and “outrageous”.
Many said they did not recognise the school described in the article.
CP “Blows out of proportion the opinions of one”
Below are some of the comments from teachers and pupils, beginning with a letter written by Isaac Lethbridge on behalf of Sandown Bay Academy’s school council.
We at the school council of the so-called “Academy of misery” were both confused and upset over how the press reported on Sandown Bay Academy’s current state. We feel that not only does it over dramatise the situation but it also doesn’t correctly show what Sandown Bay is or represents.
Firstly, in the report not once did it have the opinions or views of any student and even worse it only ever mentioned the students of our school in a negative light. We feel that by doing this the County Press are painting all students at Sandown in the same way, “out-of-control” and violent. The report fails to mention all of the successes of students and instead treats them as assets or simply the problem. At any school the students are number-one priority, Sandown is no different.
Secondly the County Press blows out of proportion the opinions of one, unnamed, member of staff who stated “the school was not safe” and “classroom violence was commonplace” both of which are simply not true. There are many members of staff who are happy to work with and educate the students here at Sandown.
Finally, throughout the report there was no sign of hope or positivity for Sandown Bay, we feel that this shows the school in a negative light and even makes newcomers nervous about joining. We do not want to send out these false, negative feelings about Sandown because that simply isn’t our school. Sandown Bay is no different to any other school, there will be bullying and poor behaviour at every school just as there is hope and outstanding students at every school. We at the school council wish to deal with and help those who need it and show our amazing achievements to newcomers and parents. Reporting on only the negatives of our school isn’t right as we take pride in being pupils of Sandown Bay Academy, we are not just an “Academy of misery”.
Staff: “Appalled at the terrible reporting”
A staff member stated,
“I am absolutely appalled at the terrible reporting on the front page of the County Press. The whole headline was based on one letter from a member of staff without investigating the feelings of the other 180 staff who work here.
“As a school we are here for our students and the headline has a damaging impact on staff and students who are about to embark on exams which will affect the rest of their lives. As a member of staff I do not see fights every day, behaviour is dealt with appropriately and I have had nothing but support from the leadership team in the school.
“I am horrified at how poor Sandown Bay Academy is being portrayed in the press. It is no different from any other secondary school on the Isle of Wight. Our staff work tirelessly to help students achieve their best.”
Staff: “One person’s inaccurate view”
Another member of staff said,
“I feel saddened that one person’s inaccurate view of Sandown Bay Academy has made front page news. I feel saddened that a community newspaper reported this view without a counterbalance argument.
“Sickness absence, student behaviour and funding cuts affect all schools, these are not unique to SBA, and these issues are nowhere near as reported. The students and staff are working hard as we approach the exam season. Sandown Bay Academy should be recognised for the students many achievements.”
Pupil: “Inspired by teachers”
Other pupils said,
“Throughout my years at Sandown, there have been many inspiring teachers, they have gone beyond the curriculum to support and encourage my interest in all fields and help develop skills beyond just what I require for my future path.”
“The press comments about SBA are outrageous. There are not fights, we are friendly and helpful to other students and teachers. Every day I’m smiling because our students are so nice and helpful, no one is left without help or a friend.”
“Students have read your article and believe that most of it is not true, we are angry and question why you only highlight bad things. This school has amazing opportunities, for example, the success in Global Rock, the sporting opportunities and fantastic facilities. We have a successful rowing team who recently competed at the National Indoor Rowing competition with students in Year 8 and all the way up to Sixth Form. This school is thriving and it needs to be recognised.”
“No school is perfect, but to me, my school is great.”
You can read all the comments by pupils and staff on their Sandown Bay Academy Website.
CP: “We verified the information”
OnTheWight contacted CP editor, Alan Marriott for a response to the comments.
“I thank Isaac [who wrote to the CP] for his superbly written defence of his school.
“The County Press has no wish to run down Sandown or any other school. We constantly report on the successes of all IW schools and last Thursday night I was proud to be on a judging panel that chose Sandown Bay and Ryde academies as the two schools to represent the Island in this year’s Young Enterprise area competition. Sandown’s sixth form team were a credit to the school.
“However, when teachers come to us painting a picture of an unhappy school from their perspective, the headteacher announces her departure and the governors are effectively sacked, we have a duty to report this and hopefully, in the long term, things will get better.
“Of course, we verified the information we were given regarding staff morale etc, and our source was backed up.”