Pupils told whisper please... the noise gives us headaches

Iain Gilmour, head of Isambard Brunel Juniors

Iain Gilmour, head of Isambard Brunel Juniors

Headteacher Lucy Ford with pupils, from left, Harry Walker, six, Alex Voroneanu, six, Tilly Howard, seven, and Jamie Gilmartin, seven Picture: Sarah Standing (170793-3928)

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children were told to whisper during lunchtime at a Portsmouth school – because the noise they made was giving staff headaches.

Pupils at Isambard Brunel Junior School in North End, Portsmouth, were told to quieten down while they ate their lunch in the school hall.

Headteacher Iain Gilmour said too many children were shouting and that if they continued to be loud they would have to sit in silence.

But Mr Gilmour said he only asked them to whisper at the beginning, to help them get used to speaking more quietly in the future to create a nicer atmosphere in the school hall.

One mum, whose eight-year-old daughter is a pupil at the school, but who wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘It’s their time to relax and converse with friends and not have to worry about doing as they are told in class.

‘It’s just another one of those strange things the headmaster has come up with.

‘Part of education is learning social skills.

‘They need to learn how to relax with their peers. I was in disbelief.’

Another mum, whose nine-year-old daughter attends the school, added: ‘I asked the headteacher and he said he asked the children to whisper. When I asked why he said he gets a headache.

‘It’s not fair on them. They should be able to talk.

‘If they don’t talk they just aren’t going to socialise.’

Mr Gilmour said: ‘In our lunch hall we had 110 children shouting. It was breaking the health and safety laws in terms of decibels. We said to them “please talk quietly and if you can’t talk quietly then don’t talk at all”.

‘They aren’t in silence. It should be a nice atmosphere where they can enjoy each other’s company. They aren’t whispering.

‘I agree with the parents, it’s about socialising and relaxing. But it’s about an environment that doesn’t give people migraines. With 100 children talking it gets louder and louder.

‘Our teachers and dinner staff are having problems making themselves heard. But it’s a lovely atmosphere now.

‘I did say whisper to begin with. Now it’s a quiet chat. Everybody can hear everybody talk.

‘This was one of the things that the children said to me through a children’s survey. They felt that the behaviour in the lower hall wasn’t as good as in other places.

‘The idea of children being seen and not heard is definitely not what we are doing. We are just trying to make it nice.

‘Dinner needs to be a social occasion. It’s getting them used to the idea of being quiet.’

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