Letter to the Editor of the Courier
The Merkinch team were hugely disappointed by the misleading and inaccurate article published on Page 3 of your paper on 1/6/18. At Merkinch Primary School we work hard to meet the needs of all of our children and families. We are well known for our nurturing approach to learning and in our recent quality improvement visit it was highlighted how well we know our pupils.
Sports day can be an upsetting experience for children with additional support needs and with that in mind and the well-known science that, prior to puberty, there is no need to segregate sports, we redesigned our sports day to meet the needs of our pupils, encouraging everyone to take part and each to achieve their own potential. I would re-emphasise that our decision was not as a result of any instructions or guidance to schools.
You, however, ran a misleading story which would make readers think that our motives were hugely different from our actual intentions.
This year, in advance of sports day, our children practised races, ran heats and then were put in groups according to sporting ability. This is a similar approach to many sporting events; for example if I ran in a local 10k I would predict my time and run with other racers both male and female who were of a similar ability. This approach meant that for the first time many of our children experienced success at our sports day, competing against other children who were of a similar ability to themselves.
As a direct result of your article, I have endured a number of “hate mail” type emails, tweets and comments about me personally, which are just not true and do not in any way represent the ethos of my leadership or our school where we firmly put the children at the heart of all we do.
We will of course use your article to teach our children about the importance of not believing all they read in the newspaper or on social media. We will remind them of the importance of always making informed choices, not jumping to conclusions and most important of all, even adults can make mistakes.
I would hope to see you report the actual story of life in Merkinch Primary, where children are valued members of our community and where pupil voice counts. This year their feedback was that sports day was great fun… they loved it. The primary 6 children enjoyed the sense of responsibility that comes with leadership opportunities. And their only request for a change would be to include an obstacle race for the upper primary.
I hope that you will publish my letter with the same prominence as your damaging article.
This letter has been published on the council website as the Inverness Courier refused to publish it.