A STUDENT-led campaign has been launched to reinstate the school counsellor at The Chase after a girl and teacher were attacked with a knife.
Connie Padgett started the online petition last Tuesday – the day after the incident – and already about 250 people have declared support.
The 15-year-old year 11 pupil said there was widespread outrage when student counsellor Sam Morris was made redundant earlier this year and added she was extra motivated for something to be done after last week’s attack at the Geraldine Road school.
“The Chase used to have a good support structure and Sam was a vital part of that,” she said.
“The students have a right to that type of security in school, it far outweighs the benefit of any financial saving.
“It was a really fatal misjudgement on Mr Jacobs’ part to let the counsellor go.
“We used to have a room in school we called Area 51 because we knew whatever was said in there, nothing would come out. But now a lot of people don’t feel they can come out and talk about things.”
Headteacher Richard Jacobs said it was ‘nonsense’ to suggest last Monday’s incident was linked to the redundancy of the school counsellor.
“The student counsellor was a post made redundant due to a decreased level of funding,” he said. “It was not a post we wanted to remove but we were forced to because of the circumstances.
“Our relationship with the former student counsellor is currently strong and she does continue to support individual students at The Chase.
“We are currently about to start discussions with her new charity to consider how we can further support any student who needs it.
“However, there is no connection whatsoever between the events of Monday and the redundancy of the student counsellor.
“People are signing up to a petition made by a popular 15-year-old who actually doesn’t have all of the facts.”
Sam Morris, who now runs her own mental health charity for young people called Safe with Sam, said she would not be able to return to The Chase full time because of her current charity commitments, but added she would be happy to attend the school up to two days a week.
Sam also said it was ‘ridiculous’ for Mr Jacobs to rule out the notion that Monday’s incident might not have happened if there was a full-time counsellor on site.
“I would love this to create a platform for it to be a legal requirement to have a full-time counsellor in schools, so children’s well-being cannot be disregarded,” she said.
“I think The Chase have got themselves in a hole by saying the post was not needed.
“They welcomed me with open arms on Monday and Mr Jacobs expressed to me how grateful he was. We are looking to have a working alliance but I don’t think they can reinstate me after making me redundant. That’s a problem.”
Visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/bring-sam-morris-back-to-the-chase for more information on Connie’s campaign.