PARENTS whose children go to the 'UK's strictest school' have revealed their thoughts on its 5pm finish time, no packed lunches rule and Saturday detentions – they love it.
The Yorkshire families say the stern practices at Mercia School are beneficial to their youngsters – dubbing the etiquette "amazing" and saying other schools should take a leaf from its book.
The Sheffield school insists on "high standards of behaviour and teaching", which it enforces through some of the most stringent rules in the country.
The school day runs from 7.30am-5pm Monday to Thursday – with hours at the end of the day reserved for "self-study" and homework.
On Fridays home time is 3.45pm, but the students who have landed three detentions that week will be kept until 5pm for "Headteacher's detention".
Mercia also has Saturday morning detentions for pupils who skip holiday work or who the Head decides are deserving of it.
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Lunch time is no less strict, with packed lunches banned and healthy diets emphasised.
And, as you can imagine, uniform is tightly policed.
But, the approach seems to work as Mercia has the lowest exclusion rate and highest attendance percentage in the city.
Parents also speak highly of the strict approach.
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Nazia Maqboul's daughter Inayah Deen is in year eleven at the school.
The 40-year-old said: "My daughter started back in September and she is really happy. She is a sporty person and they have loads of sports here.
“I dropped her off at 7am because they go and do sports at 7.30am.”
Nazia, who is a teaching assistant at another school, said: "The 5pm finish is ready good because I can pick her up and I don’t need child minders.
“She is flourishing at Mercia. The school is amazing, they work on behaviour and I am happy about that.
“I think other schools should take on Mercia’s policy because the you don’t see the kids walking all over the streets, buying sweets and so on.
"Mercia keeps the kids in all day until 5pm and it just adds to the discipline.
“Every break the kids are kept behind the school gates. They are fed and exercised and taught all in school.”
Victoria Shuttleworth's daughter Maddison, 12, also attends Mercia School.
The 30-year-old said: "Maddison is finding the school amazing. She has really come on.
I think other schools should take on Mercia’s policy.
“She has got autism and ADHD, so she does struggle a lot, but they are incredible with her.
“The strictness of the school is beneficial – there is nothing wrong with having a few rules.
“The long school hours are ok, she enjoys it, and she doesn’t bring her homework home, so it’s positive on that front.
“Doing their homework in school is quite handy.”
Richard Lewis, 48, has two sons, aged 14 and 12, at Mercia, and says he's a "fan".
He said: "The boys absolutely love the school. The strict policies seem to be working extremely well.
“My boys like the structure of the school. They like the early breakfast and want to get in for 7.30 for the extra curricula stuff, like the chess club.
“Chef Chris cooks the food and he is very charismatic, quite a character.
“Both the boys and I like that the homework is done at school in a controlled environment.
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“A long academic day might seem strange, but their knowledge retention is really good when we quiz them at home.
“I think the learning catchphrase is ‘we don’t practice until we get it right, we practice until we don’t get it wrong’.”
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