A devastated mum has spoken out after her son was excluded from school for taking a “toy gun” into a McDonald’s restaurant before class.
Pauline Pollard said that her son Mitchell, 12, was kicked out of school, a brand new school which opened in September 2021.
Mitchell took a black and yellow toy gun to McDonald’s and gave it to a friend who Pauline said later “shot a couple of pellets at two pupils.”
While Christ Church school in Yardley Wood insisted that any decision to exclude a pupil is not made lightly Pauline, 53, suggested that its punishment methods were “over the top”, Birmingham Live reports.
The self-employed cleaner claimed that her son was the victim of “unfair treatment” and likened the school to an “army camp”.
Mark Bowman Dalton, the headteacher at Christ Church, said: “Any exclusion is not made lightly and will follow the statutory guidance set by the Department for Education. Each case is treated fairly and will be reviewed by a panel of governors.
“Christ Church, Church of England Secondary Academy sets clear boundaries that encourage excellent behavior and ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in the learning environment.”
Pauline insisted that despite being permanently excluded her son was not a “wayward” child. She said Mitchell was now “considered a danger” despite not having threatened or harmed anyone.
“We found quite early on that the school is quite harsh,” she said. “While we appreciate that they are going to try and set a benchmark and a precedent for a brand new school, they are a little bit over the top in punishment.”
During a hearing – in which the school’s board of governors upheld the exclusion – Pauline claimed she had provided “impeccable references” on behalf of her son. She claimed this included a worker at the local McDonald’s where Mitchell gave the gun to his friend.
Pauline claimed the gun had been given to police who found no grounds to investigate. But she claims there was a “misunderstanding” a week earlier that left a ‘blemish’ on Mitchell’s record.
During a class debate about the three things pupils would take to a desert island, Pauline said her 12-year-old joked about packing a pair of scissors to “stab himself in the neck” as he would not want to be alone.
She claimed a teacher misheard this remark and thought Mitchell was threatening them.
Now, Pauline said she was in the process of appealing the decision. She insisted it was not a BB gun Mitchell was found with – because it didn’t shoot ball bearings but “small plastic pips”. She added it was black and gold in colour, making it clear it did not pose a danger.
“It’s not a BB gun and this is where my argument lays,” she added. “A BB gun obviously shoots high velocity ballbearing and this shoots small plastic pips. It’s gold and black so it can be identified that it’s not a firearm.”
She went on: “It is ultimately for the fact that it is entirely unfair for Mitchell. Is he going to be subject to a naughty boy’s school or what? At this moment in time, I don’t know. He is not being educated in any way.
“It’s a school not an army camp.”
According to one police force, BB guns that fire plastic or aluminum balls “may or may not be firearms so may or may not be prohibited.” West Yorkshire Police said this was because the pellets are fired by different methods.
The force said: “The soft air type of BB gun which is ‘toy like’, though it may be a little too powerful to be officially classed as a toy, does not fit within the definition of a section 1 firearm because it is usually too low powered and is probably designed to fire plastic [or] aluminum pellets.
“If you are unsure whether your BB gun is legal or not, you should check with your police force’s firearms department who will be able to advise you. Given the nature of BB guns and their capabilities, it is not advisable to allow young children to be in possession of them.
“Also be aware that many BB guns are extremely realistic and the police treat all reports involving weapons as if they are real live firearms.
“Please note that all calls to police involving firearms are treated as if it is a genuine firearm so be aware that if you do wave an imitation firearm around you could find yourself surrounded by firearms officers pointing real weapons at you.”
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.