Updated: 3:32 p.m. ET Aug. 30, 2005
As children throughout the country head back to school, many of them are probably muttering a few choice words about the prospect of returning to the classroom and the expected onslaught of homework. But can they utter those choice words and swear at their teachers? If they’re heading back to school in one town in England, then yes, they can.
According to a report in the U.K.’s Daily Mail, one school in the town of Wellingborough is allowing pupils to swear at teachers, providing they only do so no more than five times in a class. A tally of how many times the f-word is used will be kept and if the class exceeds the limit, they will be “spoken” to, the newspaper reported.
The school believes the policy will improve behavior, but parents and parliamentary members have condemned the rule and warned it would backfire.
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According to the Daily Mail, assistant headmaster Richard White said the policy was aimed at 15- and 16-year-olds in two classes which are considered troublesome.
"Within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate (although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times and these will be tallied on the board so all students can see the running score," the Daily Mail quoted White as writing in a letter. "Over this number the class will be spoken to by the teacher at the end of the lesson."
According to the report, headmaster Alan Large said he had received no complaints about the policy.
But Conservative member of parliament Ann Widdecombe said the policy was based on “Alice in Wonderland reasoning,” the Daily Mail reported. “What next? Do we allow people to speed five times or burgle five times? You don't improve something by allowing it, you improve something by discouraging it,” Widdecombe was quoted as saying.
The newspaper also reported that the 1,130-pupil school plans to send “praise postcards” to the parents of children who do not swear and who turn up on time for lessons.