PUPILS at Isambard Community School have launched a petition to fight against proposals to cut their lunch break by 15 minutes.

The trial scheme was announced to pupils last Monday, with letters being sent to parents the following day.

Chris Brady, a Year 10 pupil at the school, said the scheme was flawed and contradictory in his petition, which has now gained more than 100 signatures.

“Only one lesson in five a day would be make longer, making it random as to which lessons are extended,” he said.

“Due to disparity in timetables between classes, the content cannot be moved through faster, meaning the extra time cannot be utilised properly.

“Shortening the only period of the day where students have the chance to relieve stress and unwind would be extremely unhelpful, as with the ever-increasing pressure of schoolwork and exams students may be unable to cope.

“As well as this, there have been several issues with the idea, such as differing claims in regard to the reasoning behind the proposal.

“In the original letter sent to parents, it was claimed to be in place in order to aid students’ education.

“However, when questioned by pupils several teachers stated the scheme was there due to behavioural issues.

“This contradiction either means there has been severe miscommunication about the scheme, which brings into question whether it has been properly considered and planned, or that parents or students are being directly lied to.”

A spokesman for the school responded to the petition by saying: “Our first concern is always for our students’ education.

“While social time and letting off steam are important, we feel 45 minutes is ample.

“Most other local secondary schools have 30 to 45 minutes without any problems.

“Part of secondary education is about preparing students for the world of work where you will find breaks are few and short.

“Students spend far more time outside school than they do in school – this is the time for social life and play, school time is for learning.

“It would be refreshing if all those who signed this petition were as interested in educational success as they appear to be in a minor change to the school day.”

Headteacher Rachael Mattey defended the scheme by insisting it is only a trial at this stage.

“Isambard Community School’s top priorities are the education and wellbeing of our students,” she said.

“This change to the lunch break is being trialled to assess whether the extra 15 minutes that this would enable us to add onto the last lesson of the day will improve students’ learning and levels of engagement across the afternoon. There will be no change to the start or end times of the day.

“We understand concerns that this reduces the time students have to eat, socialise and take part in extra-curricular activities, which are all important aspects of the school day.

“However we have looked at this in detail and believe that lunches can be served in this time and that enrichment activities can continue as normal.

“The length of our lunch break will also be brought closer in line with other schools across Swindon, in fact still ensuring our pupils enjoy one of the longest breaks in the borough.

“This is, however, a trial for the coming term.

“Only if we see that the changes are beneficial to our students will this become a permanent amendment to the timetable.”