A former teacher at Brakenhale School has criticised an ‘authoritarian’ approach to behaviour management and spoken of large classes and staffing shortages.

The school has faced repeated complaints from parents since 2022, with some comparing it to a ‘military’ or ‘prison’ camp.

Now former English teacher Paul Wells has criticised the school’s managers for their ‘authoritarian’ approach.

Mr Wells told the News: “They have this idea that being authoritarian means you’ll have compliant pupils, and teachers won’t have to worry about classroom management. But if you have a behaviour policy that is so zero tolerant, teachers can just get rid of pupils.

READ MORE: 'Zero tolerance' debate behind Brakenhale rules controversy 

He added: “It doesn’t take into account the special educational needs of some students, vulnerable students, or pupils with disabilities. It works for the top 10 per cent of high performing pupils, but for everybody else it’s just punishing.

Greenshaw Learning Trust – which runs the school – declined to comment.

Mr Wells had decided to leave the school before headteacher Camilla Douglas took charge in February.

He took a period of sick leave while he was working his notice, and during this period received a written warning for misconduct, which he is appealing.

Mr Wells claims that the ‘zero tolerance’ behaviour policies have ‘gone through the roof’ in the weeks after Mrs Douglas joined the school.

She was previously deputy head teacher at another Greenshaw Learning Trust School, Park House in Newbury, which has faced similar parent complaints.

Mr Wells says that Mrs Douglas sent large numbers of pupils to the ‘reflection room’ – a form of in-school suspension – during her first week for infractions such as not taking their coats off or for talking.

He adds that managers from Greenshaw Learning Trust were present in the school and were ‘rude’ to staff and pupils. He claims that during one visit by Greenshaw staff last year he witnessed one telling off a distressed child in tears as she was on her way to the special educational needs unit.

Mr Wells also claims that, due to staff shortages, teachers are having to manage ‘centralised’ lessons of up to 50 people in assembly halls.

He said: “If you take on a class you have to know your stuff about a subject. But I know teachers who have been asked to take GCSE classes outside of their subjects – and these are permanent. This is how they’re dealing with the staffing crisis.”

The News asked Greenshaw Learning Trust for comment and gave it the opportunity to deny Mr Wells’s claims.

A spokesperson said: “We do not comment through the press on matters regarding students and encourage any parents or previous employees with concerns to contact the school directly.”