Two 15-year-old boys have been arrested on suspicion of attacking two other teenagers at a Sheffield school where parents are demanding action over alleged ‘intimidation, violence and gang-like culture’.
The boys were questioned by police after being arrested on suspicion of assaulting a pair of 14-year-old boys, as well as public order offences, following the trouble at Hinde House School in Shiregreen.
The youths have since been released on bail pending further enquiries.
More than 1,800 people have signed an online petition urging changes at Hinde House, where tensions have grown since the attack last Thursday.
Rhys Larkings, 14, was left with a broken nose and cuts to his ear and eyes, needing treatment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, after a clash with three other boys.
The incident led to wider disruption in school, and claims that a number of youngsters have been hurt in recent weeks in incidents involving pupils from Slovakian backgrounds.
A number of students were sent home after the attack on Rhys, but governors are believed to have not yet decided whether the main offenders should be permanently expelled.
The parents’ petition says the school ‘can no longer ignore the intimidation, violence and gang-like culture that is rife there’.
Parents presented the petition at Hinde House today, and were due to meet headteacher Chris French this morning - but Rhys’ mother Lorraine said today’s meeting had been cancelled. Instead discussions will be held with Year 10 parents tomorrow, and Year 11 parents on Thursday.
“I would have been quite happy to have a public meeting where everybody could turn up and speak to Mr French,” said Mrs Larkings, aged 42.
“Instead they are having individual meetings for each year group over the next few days. I think they were expecting too many people to turn up today. They didn’t want trouble at the school.”
She added: “At the end of the day you need children’s safety in school. We have got to stand up for ourselves, the trouble and fighting is not acceptable. By tomorrow night I want Mr French to have a firm plan in place as to what he’s going to do.”
Mrs Larkings said the petition was handed over to Mr French outside the school gates.
“He shook our hands and said he was pleased that it had all passed peacefully this morning,” she said.
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The incident happened in a corridor at break time, when Rhys was mistakenly accused of kicking a ball at another pupil.
Mrs Larkings, of Acacia Road, Shiregreen, was later called into school but sent her daughter Jade instead as she had no idea Rhys had been so badly hurt.
“Jade arrived to find Rhys covered in blood,” she said. “It was clear he needed to go to hospital straight away - he later had stitches above both eyes. Now I am keeping him away from school until the situation is sorted.”
Samantha Jordan, whose 15-year-old Courtney is a Hinde House pupil, said she was genuinely concerned her daughter was not safe.
“There have been a number of assaults going on for quite a while,” she said. “Every week Courtney is telling me about different incidents and it’s got to stop.
“There have been an increasing number of Slovakian children coming into the school and things are pretty tense.”
Mr French said the original incident occurred between two Year 10 boys and a number of other pupils.
“We quickly identified the students either involved in the assault or who behaved inappropriately, and they were excluded,” he said.
“It was a serious incident, but it was dealt with swiftly and school returned to normal quickly.
“Tensions between a small number of children in Year 10 have been apparent at school for a couple of weeks, but staff have been working with students, staff and the wider community to resolve these.
“We’ve held a series of special assemblies with all students, we’ve spoken directly to a number of parents and carers, and we will be holding a further meeting this week to discuss ongoing issues with them.
“We would like to reassure parents that we always take the safety and welfare of our pupils extremely seriously and note that incidents such as this are extremely rare.
“An investigation is now underway.”