Parents of children at Hamington Grange Primary School in Southend On Sea have admitted that they are ‘deeply shocked’ after the school announced that all children will be allowed to USE DUMMIES in school from October. According to the headteacher Dr Polly Jones, giving children from Reception to Year 6 the option to use a dummy in class should have a dramatic effect on classroom behaviour and discipline at a time when class sizes are ‘regrettably large.’

We spoke to Dr Jones earlier today about how the school’s governors and management have justified this decision, and she told our Chief Reporter that recent behaviour issues and staffing cost increases have left her with ‘practically no other options.’

She said: ‘With recent changes in government guidelines about how we are permitted to deal with problem behaviour in the classroom, it became clear that drastic action would need to be taken sooner rather than later to ensure that every child in our school can benefit from a productive and safe learning environment. Any problems that we do have with behaviour are magnified by the fact that our school’s catchment area is one of the most deprived in South Essex.’

‘In our Nursery area last year, we noticed that children who have a dummy or pacifier tended to calm down and play in a relaxed manner in comparison to those children who didn’t have access to one, and this got us thinking about how we could apply similar measures to older children in the infant and junior classes. When you walk around Southend town centre, you can usually see children of all ages sitting in prams and using a dummy, and this is why we are confident that local parents will agree with our new policy.’

‘From October, every class teacher and teaching assistant will have access to a package of wrapped and sterilised dummies in a range of sizes, and we have carefully chosen a supplier who manufactures them to the highest possible ‘Kitemark’ standards – this is a vital seal of approval as we cannot expose any children to the risk of choking on parts of the dummies that come loose.’

‘We have already carried out a one-day trial in all classes, and straight away we noticed that children who chose to use a dummy were attentive when listening to the class teacher. As work progressed into written tasks, their behaviour continued to be exemplary, and answering questions orally didn’t pose any problems as they were able to simply remove the dummy and then put it back in afterwards.’

‘I am aware that some members of the public may have something to say about offering dummies to all pupils, especially for those who are ten or eleven years old. We welcome constructive criticism from all sides, and I am more than happy to present the evidence that we have collected as it shows a clear increase in classroom performance, test scores and overall fact retention.’

‘Around 30% of our parents across the school have told us that they use dummies at home in one way or another, and at the same time all parents will be able to ‘opt out’ of the scheme with a written letter to the school office.’

Chantelle Doggitt has three children at Hamington Grange who are five, seven and nine years old respectively, and she told Southend News Network that she is ‘delighted’ to see the school trying something ‘a little different’ when it comes to managing behaviour.’

She said: ‘All of my children are given a dummy at home when they are playing up, and so I think that giving them out in the classroom as a preventative measure is a fantastic idea. We are always told in life that ‘prevention’ is better than ‘cure,’ and as long as they can learn to live without them by the time they go to senior school I really don’t think that it will be a problem.’