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Greenwich Free School 'prison camp' searches for mobile phones
A MUM who claims her 11-year-old daughter was patted down by a male teacher searching for banned mobile phones has likened Greenwich's new free school to "a prison camp".
The newly-opened Greenwich Free School has radically tough rules on phones, which involve searching pupils if there is "intelligence" they are carrying one and then confiscating it until the end of term.
But Lisa Wells claims her daughter Britney Staples was searched twice in one week, once by a male teacher with no female member of staff present.
Ms Wells, 42, of Charlton Park Lane, Charlton, said: "Her mobile phone was found in her possession and they took it from her.
"When I spoke to them they said I wasn't allowed it back until the end of October."
She said: "My daughter needs a phone to keep her safe. She walks down Shooter's Hill Road after school.
"If she's not back by 6pm I want to hear from her and make sure she's OK."
The mum-of-five, whose other children are John Roan pupils, went into the school and persuaded them to hand the handset back.
But last week her daughter was searched again after claims she had been seen with a phone on the bus into school.
Now the family say they have been told Britney cannot return to the school unless the mobile is handed over.
Ms Wells said: "I'm now trying to find out where she stands over going to a different school.
"I refuse to be blackmailed."
She said: "I thought this was the right choice for my daughter.
"All schools have rules, I totally agree with that, but there are rules and there's a prison camp."
"A clear policy"
The free school opened last month in Adair House, Woolwich, with 93 Year 7 pupils - seven short of capacity.
In the first week, nearly half those pupils - 37 of them - received detention under the school's "three strikes" policy, backing up its claims to impose strict discipline.
The school admits it takes a hard line on mobile phone use and is believed to be the only one in the borough with such a policy.
A spokeswoman said: "We have a mobile phone policy all our parents are aware of and have signed up to.
"It's about making sure our pupils are safe and can also learn in an environment with no distractions.
"Where we receive intelligence pupils are breaking our rules we will, firstly, ask them to empty their pockets and will check blazer pockets have been emptied, without any physical contact.
"Should we need to conduct a full search because pupils are being defiant, our clear policy is that the search would be conducted by a teacher of the same gender, with at least one other teacher present."