FURIOUS parents have labelled a school “disrespectful” after teachers banned their children from paying tribute to cancer victim Bradley Lowery by writing on their school shirts.
But the head teacher has apologised for any “confusion” and said it was planning its own fund-raising event in memory of Bradley.
More than 30 pupils from Rawmarsh Community School paid tribute to six-year-old Bradley – whose funeral was held today (Friday) – by writing on their school shirts “R.I.P Bradley”, his age and other messages of sympathy or drawings of stars and hearts.
Pupils were also reprimanded for breaking out into a chant of: “There’s only one Bradley Lowery”, according to upset mother Jay Haywood, when they were hauled before teachers.
The tribute was arranged by pupils and Ms Haywood (37), of Rawmarsh, said the school should have been proud pupils had taken it upon themselves to pay tribute to Bradley.
Head teacher, Helen O’Brien, told pupils to go home and change, or cover up the writing.
Ms Haywood said: “The school hadn’t backed it, but I can’t believe they were sent home for that – it’s disrespectful.”
An angry Ms Haywood said she refused to send her 12-year-old daughter, Elle-Jay Inwood, back to school and instead hung the shirt up on the school railings.
Ms Haywood added: “The kids have just tried to do a good thing, they are not hurting anyone or graffitied on walls, they have just written on their tops to show respect like a lot of kids have around the world.
“They have been punished for something they shouldn’t have been punished for.”
Margaret Celmeta said her 12-year-old daughter, Poppy Davies, had also been sent home to change.
Ms Celmeta (33) said: “All the kids are disgusted about it and thinking of protesting.
“I didn’t think it would be a problem, but obviously the school does.”
Bradley, from County Durham, died last Friday following a cancer fight after being diagnosed with neuroblastoma aged just 18 months.
During his battle he struck up a friendship with former Sunderland and England striker Jermain Defoe – who called him a “little superstar”.
Some schools around the country have taken part in non-uniform days to raise money for the Bradley Lowery Foundation, initially set up to help pay for the youngster to have treatment abroad.
But the school's head teacher, Ms O’Brien, said the school was raising money for the foundation in October during its annual sponsored walk.
Ms O’Brien said: “This gives parents and pupils plenty of notice and is likely to raise more money and awareness for the foundation.
“We apologise if this has caused any confusion with parents or pupils and we certainly have no intention of this causing any distress towards the foundation or indeed Bradley’s family.
“A small minority of students – 32 in total out of a possible 930 pupils – did arrive at school today with messages written on their school shirts.
“These students were either sent home to change or asked to cover their shirt with their school jumper in accordance with the school uniform policy.
“We did not exclude anyone for not wearing their uniform today.”
READ MORE: Fund-raising tributes inspired by brave football fan Bradley Lowery
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.