A school has been criticised by three generations for holding its Remembrance Day two minutes silence half an hour early today so that it avoided break time.
Students at Thurston Community College’s Beyton sixth form campus were told of moving it to 10.30am at assembly yesterday.
This morning students and their relatives called the Bury Free Press describing the change as ‘disrespectful’, but head teacher Helen Wilson says it was done to allow pupils to mark it in more personally in smaller, class groups and some students have supported her stance.
Terrance Roe, whose step daughter goes to the school said: “You’re trying to teach children their morals and you’ve got a school saying they’re not going to do it at 11 o’clock when most of the nation is standing still.
“Two minutes is not a lot to take for those who died for their country.”
Shirley Clarke, whose granddaughter is at the school, said: “This is the next generation and its so disrespectful and what’s it teaching our little ones?”
Linda Meggett, whose daughter goes to the school, said: “My father and both my grandfathers fought in the war and my husband is still in the services
“My father died this tim last year and he always instilled into my daughter that it’s something you always do. As a military family it’s 11-11-11 not 10.30.
“You want them to be good citizens, you want the school to put caring values into them and they’re doing it wrong.”
Student Brittany Meggett emailed us: “Many students parents or grandparents or relatives are connected to the conflicts around the world that are going on or have previously occurred and therefore I believe it is extremely important that the sixth form should have respected these families, as well as the families we do not know, by conducting the silence at the appropriate time.”
Thurston student Olivia Rush, 17, has relatives who were in the services and called to say: “We’re doing it half an hour earlier than anyone else is doing it and we thought it was really disrespectful. We’re doing it just because it’s break time.”
Her friend Bethany Miller, also 17, backed her up saying: “It’s really disrespectful. The majority of the country will do it at 11am, but because it’s in our break time, we can’t.
“It’s not just a little group who object, it’s a lot of people in the school.”
Another 17-year-old, Abigail Lebbon, emailed: “Our head of sixth form just before the start of the two minutes silence at 10.30 quote: ‘We take time out of our very busy day today’ however it seems it was not important enough to take time out of her break time.”
Fellow student Charlotte Clarke emailed: “I find this absolutely disgraceful. Its so wrong that we have completed our two minutes silence at 10.30 purely because 11.00 runs into our break time...so disrespectful.”
Ms Wilson said: “We’ve got lots of forces children at Thurston and the idea that I would do anything disrespectful – I’m gutted people should think that.”
She said that as one of Suffolk’s largest schools, she wanted to ensure Remembrance Day was marked in a personal way. Classes were interrupted so students could watch a Powerpoint presentation on remembrance, with a student in each class reading In Flanders’ Fields, followed by two minutes silence.
“It was an extremely powerful presentation of remembrance,” she said. “I don’t think we could have replicated that at break time in the dining room with several hundred people there.”
She felt the reason had not been properly communicated to students and parents.
Ms Wilson said she did not want to hold the presentation to run up to 11am because it would have made the first lesson too long and reduced the break time.
“I didn’t feel it was right to change the whole structure of the day,” she said.
After school, student Holly Mckenzie emailed: “I am deeply upset by the fact the you have made it come across that most pupils in the school were not happy about the timings, as this is not true.
“I have had many relatives serve and my brother even serves in the army now and I did not find the half an hour change to the times disrespectful.”
Another student, Katie Colyer wrote: “I feel like the point of the silence is to think about Remembrance Day. You don’t think about what time it is. You think about those people who gave up their lives and who are still making huge sacrifices every day for our country. The time was changed to make sure that the silence meant something.”
James Smart wrote: “The views expressed and quoted in the article are just those of a small clique at sixth form and their relatives and does not represent the majority opinion on the matter, most students would have preferred the 2 minute silence have been held at 11:00 but had no strong opposition.”
The silence is traditionally held at 11am on November 11 because that was the time the Armistace came into force in 1918.