Thurston Community College hits back at claims it did not show respect on Remembrance Day by holding silence at 10.30am

Debate is sparked over school's decision to hold two minute silence at 10.30am

Debate is sparked over school's decision to hold two minute silence at 10.30am - Credit: Archant

A headteacher has defended her school following anger that it marked the Remembrance Day silence half an hour earlier than the 11am tradition.

The decision by Thurston Community College to hold the act of remembrance at 10.30am has sparked a debate, with passionate arguments put forward on both sides.

Some community college students themselves have described it as disrespectful to not conform to tradition and hold the two minute silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which is the time in 1918 when the guns fell silent along the Western Front in Europe.

But principal Helen Wilson has said the college went to “great lengths to ensure a consistent, meaningful and respectful tribute,” adding her personal view is “commemorating the event is a matter of principle rather than a specific time”.

She said: “This decision was made to ensure that all members of our community were able to participate in a meaningful tribute.

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“Holding the act during lesson time facilitated intimate gatherings across both of our campuses, where we were able to focus on the purpose of remembrance and reflect on the poignant words of a well-chosen poem.

“Providing time afterwards to address any issues, including comforting those upset by the event, was also part of our thoughtful plan. Standing, as a united community of more than 2,000 people, was a powerful moment.”

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However, year 11 student Aisling Brooks said she could see no good reason why the two minute silence was not held during break at 11am.

The 15-year-old said: “What’s two minutes out of a break time when people have given their lives for us?”

She said her and a couple of friends decided to hold their own act of remembrance in a school corridor at 11am “to show respect”.

Her mother Judy Brooks, 46, added: “I do agree with her. I think it’s important to teach all our kids 11am is important and it’s there for a reason.”

She believes moving the time is “disrespectful”.

Ben Lord, 29, treasurer of the Ixworth branch of the Royal and an Ixworth parish councillor, said if the time was relaxed “how long will it be before the efforts of the Royal British Legion become harder and we are not marking the occasion at all?”

Meanwhile, sixth form student Dani Bonnelykke, 17, defended the school’s stance, saying she felt it was more intimate and effective to have the presentation and poem in individual classrooms. “It’s about remembering, not about the time,” said the student.

Miss Wilson said she had received numerous emails of support from parents, but she would take time to reflect upon the views expressed about the timing of the event.

“I believe that Thurston Community College honoured the fallen. I feel privileged to be a member of Thurston Community College, a community who yesterday demonstrated an ethos of respect and dignity.”

Veteran amputee Colin Branch, who has been a member of college staff for the past six years, said he was “immensely proud” to work at the college, especially after yesterday’s act of remembrance.

“Seeing students and staff taking time to reflect upon the conflicts of the past 101 years was poignant and dignified and that made me feel very proud to be a part of Thurston Community College.”

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