PARENTS of two pupils at Marlwood School say an ‘unfair’ new disciplinary system has made both of their children miserable.

The Ready to Learn (RTL) system recently introduced at both Marlwood in Alveston and The Castle School in Thornbury has received a mixed reaction, with some people praising the increased focus on behaviour, while others criticised harsh punishments such as “six-hour detentions”.

The system sees a verbal warning followed by five lessons in isolation and an hour after school, and has been brought in following success at other members of the Castle School Education Trust (CSET) such as Mangotsfield School.

But Severn Beach residents Mike and Julie Collins, whose children Zoe, 14, and Dale, 11, attend Marlwood, said they are “at their wits’ end” with the new system as the tough rules have made their children stressed and anxious about attending school.

The couple claim staff are “giving punishments that do not fit the crime” and that teachers are issuing warnings and detentions without first investigating the alleged misdeed.

They told the Gazette that Dale has behavioural problems but that since Christmas he’d been seeing a social worker and making progress.

However, since the RTL system was introduced, he has regressed after receiving warnings for as little as picking up a pen, they claim.

His parents said that, in one instance, the school phoned to say Dale would be kept behind for detention, but when they said he had an appointment with the social worker, the teacher responded that there would be “consequences” if he did not attend.

Meanwhile, Zoe, who the couple said is “mortified” if she’s ever told off, and “takes any criticism to heart”, has told her parents how she no longer enjoys school and the atmosphere RTL has created.

Mr Collins said: “One of my children is challenging, while the other is not, but both do not want to be in school. There is no praise there anymore, or if there is we are not seeing any of it. It seems like warnings are given inconsistently and punishments are being implemented before children are given a chance to say what happened.

“I understand the policies, and am in favour of them, but one size does not fit all, and there needs to be some common sense.

“Ready to Learn has worked in other schools, but this is a different area and you cannot just tar them all with the same brush.

“In our opinion the school needs to dissect the system and work out how to apply it to an individual’s needs.”

In response to the claims, Marlwood head teacher James Pope, pictured, said that the system had seen a “very positive impact” in the classroom since its introduction, with almost all students stepping up to meet the expectations required of them.

He added that feedback from some parents said the system had been ‘transformational’ for their child.

“The raised expectations of learning are being met by the overwhelming majority of students on a daily basis,” he said. “Where a student has not met the standard we work with them and their family to provide support.”