A SHOPKEEPER has spoken out about problems with school pupils making a nuisance of themselves in the town centre, ‘putting off’ shoppers and using ‘verbally abusive’ language to store staff.
The shopkeeper who wishes to remain anonymous said problems with Thomas Alleyne’s High School pupils were becoming more and more regular.
Head teacher at Thomas Alleyne’s Suzanne O’ Farrell defended the way her staff had handled complaints and said the school worked hard to maintain a strong relationship with the community and the shops in the town centre.
The shopkeeper said: “It is becoming an almost nightly occurence where a number of Thomas Alleyne’s pupils gather together in a large and fairly oppressive group.
“We work at a store in the town centre where over the last few weeks we have had food and drinks thrown through the door, and today we have watched whilst they kicked a shop sign opposite and left a trail of paper on the floor.
“We have contacted the school numerous times and have been told that this will be mentioned in school assembly, however today we were told that the issue is ‘out of their hands’ and we should contact the police.
“Perhaps we are being too old-fashioned, but we are of the opinion that the school should take some responsibility for the behaviour of their pupils when in uniform.
“We have some of their older pupils working within our company and we are aware that the unruly groups are not representative of the school as a whole.
“But visitors to the town and those without school age children will not be aware of this and will tar all of their students with the same brush.
“We have had some customers ask us to deal with it as the students have stood blocking our doorway.
“Although we have tried to speak to these students, we have unfortunately been met with verbal abuse and we feel very intimidated by them.
“Our MD also had to curtail a business call this afternoon as he could not hear due to the noise they were making.
“In a town as small as Uttoxeter, this sort of behaviour is very noticeable and potentially off-putting to shoppers, whom the high street needs desperately in these financially trying times.”
Suzanne O’ Farrell, head teacher at Thomas Alleyne’s High School said: “I’ve been in the position for 18 years and we have really good relations with the community.
“We take our responsibilities very seriously and send people out straight away to identify individuals when there are complaints made.
“Yes the behaviour of the children was not good, but it is not representative of our students in general.
“Any complaints are straight away dealt with by my staff – in this instance the shop did not even ring us up.
“We met with the store manager and ascertained the problem immediately.
“I don’t think dealing with the kids in school assembly is an effective way of dealing with the problem.
“The message doesn’t always get through that way.
“It really is a minority that cause the problems.
“I think writing to the press is an underhand way to deal with the problem.
“We don’t even let our pupils to roam around town in their lunch break and that is not a common thing for a high school of our size.
“They have to remain on school grounds.”