Harpenden School security fears lead to sixth-form ID cards

PUBLISHED: 15:08 11 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:53 06 May 2010

FORCING sixth formers to carry intrusive and over the top ID cards has unleashed a wave of protest at a secondary school in Harpenden. In response to concerns about security at the school in a recent Ofsted report, Roundwood Park School is introducing

FORCING sixth formers to carry "intrusive and over the top" ID cards has unleashed a wave of protest at a secondary school in Harpenden.

In response to concerns about security at the school in a recent Ofsted report, Roundwood Park School is introducing new ID cards - comprising a photo, date of birth and the current year - which must be carried by every sixth-form student at all times.

Sixth-former Jack Wybrow, aged 18, said that the school had not officially told the students about the cards yet but began taking their photos on Tuesday with no explanation given as to why.

He said: "I only found out from a fellow student who overheard their form tutor talking about it - how could they keep us in the dark like this?"

Assistant head teacher Tony Smith confirmed that every Roundwood sixth former would have an ID card in a couple of weeks time: "Ofsted has safeguarding policies and procedures which we must meet and although our Ofsted report did not specifically suggest ID cards, we felt that they were the best and most suitable way to improve safety at the school."

But Jack, who has refused to have his photo taken for the card, said that he thought ID cards were too extreme: "It's a ridiculous answer to the problem and if the school had bothered to take our opinions on board, I would have suggested improving CCTV at the school's entrance and tighter security at the playing field perimeters instead."

He added: "I am convinced that the school wanted to keep us in the dark about the ID cards because the later they leave it, the harder it is for us to resist the idea. We have a morning bulletin every day at registration so, had he wanted to, the head teacher could have spread the message about the ID cards in no more than 10 minutes."

"The school is constantly telling us that our opinions count and we must speak out. But then something like this happens and it makes me realise how they are just paying lip service to the idea. It is really disappointing."

Jack started a petition against the cards on Tuesday and by the end of the day he had over 120 signatures, including those of the head boy and girl. One of his fellow students, who wished to remain anonymous, said that he fully supported Jack's cause.

He commented: "Jack is forwarding an opinion which is echoed by all of the sixth formers at Roundwood. Even though the idea is far-fetched, I don't actually have a problem with the concept of an ID card for my own safety. It is the fact that Roundwood has imposed them on us without notice that bothers me."

In defence of the ID cards, Mr Smith said that they were "in no way a big brother approach" and added: "I think there is a knee-jerk reaction to the word 'ID' because of the news about National Identification cards at the moment. But our cards are similar to the canteen cards pupils used to carry when paying for lunch and they are only there so that trespassers can be quickly and easily identified."

He added: "I have to admit that we have been perhaps lax in the way that we have communicated this. But it is not something that is open for a mass debate and it was the only way that we felt we could address the issue."

The school will be talking to the sixth formers about the ID cards at an assembly this afternoon (Thursday).

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