A headteacher at one of the oldest public schools in the United Kingdom sent an email to all staff members detailing his disapproval of students forming romantic relationships.
Toby Belfield, headteacher of Ruthin School in North Wales, warned students would receive a much “worse reference” for their university applications if they were romantically involved with a fellow student.
Staff were told to be “more vigilant” with students who appear to be courting.
Being in a relationship will “always affect any university reference I write”, Yahoo News reported the email said. “Meaning – any student in a relationship will definitely get a worse reference from me.”
As for “sexual contact”, Belfield said he would “not hesitate” to expel students.
"School is not the place for romantic relationships – ever”. https://t.co/XYJqLi0HgG
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) January 23, 2018
Belfield claimed “as in previous years” he will be collating a list of names of students he suspects may be dating.
The pupils who will be due to return to the school the following year will be told they can “expect to find new schools in September”.
He asserted the students will easily be replaced.
“There are plenty of students that wish to attend Ruthin School without the diversion of romance – and these students can replace those students whose focus is on boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.”
“Relationships can start at university – not at Ruthin School,” the headteacher wrote in the email to staff.
Since the email was leaked, Belfield has backtracked on the severity of the claims despite asserting his stance remained the same.
He told The Daily Post: “If a student was achieving top grades (i.e. predicted 4/5 A* at A Level), then I would not hamper their chances of a university place by writing a less favourable reference, due to them having a boyfriend/girlfriend.
“My email was a generic one to all students, to try to dissuade them from being in a teenage relationship.”
Speaking with The Telegraph, Belfield claimed a ban on relationships would preserve the school’s reputation. Ruthin, in North Wales, United Kingdom, has fees of £34,500 (US$60,000) per year.
“Parents choose Ruthin School because it is a top ranking academic institution. In my experience, students who are in a relationship, whilst at school, are at danger of academically underachieving,” he said.
“Therefore, if they devote their time to their studies, rather than the emotional turmoil connected with teenage romance, they will achieve higher grades and go to better universities.”
As if there was not enough emphasis on his views already, he added: “I strongly disapprove of any boyfriend/girlfriend relationships.”
This is not the first time Belfield has been in the media eye for his controversial stance on teaching. In 2017 The Telegraph reported he seethed about female pupils wearing skirts which made them “look like they are going to a nightclub” and “pathetic students pretending to be ill” in emails to staff.
I had several boyfriends at school including one very serious one.
Didn’t stop me studying. Four A grades at A level, plus music exams & a French for business qualification.
Probably different for different people. Relationships were positive for me. https://t.co/FpGNDn21zo
— Trisha Elliott (@Trisha_the_doc) January 24, 2018
He was also forced to apologise in 2015 after claiming children in Welsh schools have the Welsh language “forced upon them”.
Reportedly, Belfield was trying to dismiss students whose parents had already paid their fees due to an oversubscription to the 700-year-old school. Eventually, to solve the issue Belfield utilised portable accommodation to home surplus students.
“This is the primary objective of the school – to enable them to fulfil their academic potential and go to the best universities in the world,” he told The Telegraph.
In 2017, he banned all students from visiting the park or restaurants, ordering takeaways, smoking and drinking no matter how old they were.
Belfield said students found to be in relationships would not be “summarily expelled”.
Instead, students will “be given the opportunity to review their current romantic situation, and my belief is that they (and their parents) will put their education first”.
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