Funeral at School Causes Upset
A head teacher today defended a decision to hold a funeral in her school while children were in lessons.
A service at the Samworth Enterprise Academy on Friday is believed to be the first time a funeral in England has been held in a school.
Some parents said it was upsetting for children to see the funeral while others said they believed it was "undignified" for the grieving family.
However, principal Pat Dubas said bosses at the Saffron Lane academy had decided to incorporate a fully-functioning Anglican church in the school building and that meant it could not "pick and choose" which services to offer.
The church and school share the main entrance but a door allows access to St Christopher's without visitors entering the school reception.
Nigel Smith, whose nine-year-old son, Ashley, attends the school, and who is related to the deceased's family, said: "Funerals do not have a place in schools, it's disgusting.
"We knew the church was there when the school was built but we thought it would be for educational purposes.
"The school's attitude seems to be that children will get used to it, but it shouldn't get thrust in their faces.
"It's going to affect young children mentally if they're seeing coffins during school time. It's not dignified for people who want to grieve."
The academy, which is backed by the Church of England and Leicester businessman David Samworth, opened in September and St Christopher's Parish Church relocated to a section of the building. The academy takes pupils from three to 12 years and will eventually include 16-year-olds, with the roll set to reach 1,050 pupils by 2011.
Mother Lisa Thorne, who has two children at the school, said: "It's awful to have a funeral when there are kids there. I didn't know anything about it until Friday. It shouldn't be happening."
Dad Peter Thompson, who has two children at the academy, said: "If the kids see the coffins going in and out, it might upset them.
"I didn't know this was going on, they should have informed us."
However, Mandy Ingram, whose 11-year-old daughter, Molly, goes to the school, said she had no objection.
She said: "Kids have to learn all aspects of life and that includes death.
"It's a school with a church inside it and if you want your kids to go there you have to abide by the church."
Mrs Dubas said academy bosses had put a lot of thought into planning the church's first funeral and immediate relatives of the deceased were happy with the arrangements.
She said: "When I took over as principal, we held long discussions about what would happen when there was a funeral and how to strike the right balance.
"We still have some way to go in how we manage them, and we didn't get everything right. But the church is here for the community and we can't pick and choose which services it provides."
She said the funeral was timed to avoid the period when children were in the dining hall, near the main entrance, and the academy would consider putting up frosted glass to add greater privacy for mourners.