School sparks outrage for asking pupils to vote for ‘best-looking’ classmates

Eleanor Busby

A school has sparked outrage by asking teenagers to vote for their “best-looking” classmates.

The secondary school in Kent has apologised for an awards nomination form, which was handed out to 13- and 14-year-olds, after an aunt of a student described the activity as “shocking”.

Year 9 pupils at Hugh Christie School in Tonbridge were also encouraged to nominate their classmates for best couple, biggest ego, biggest strop and biggest poser.

The task, which was linked to an end-of-year assembly, sparked criticism on social media.

Lucy Hall, who has a nephew at the school and posted a photo of the form on Twitter, said parents were “appalled” by the form and called on the school for an explanation.

She tweeted: “School is hard enough when you are 14 to create awards over best-looking boy and girl. Shocking.”

In response to the post, Twitter user Karen Pollock, a counsellor, said: “This is school sanctioned bullying. Horrendous when we have a huge crisis in teen mental health.

“It’s perfectly possible to do this without shaming and judgemental categories.”

The school said the form, which also included a category for most irritating habit, was “inappropriate”.

An internal investigation has been launched into why a member of staff produced the document.

Jon Barker, the executive principal, said the school takes issues concerning the mental health and wellbeing of its students “very seriously”.

He added: “I wish to apologise unreservedly for the awards nomination form circulated to students and seen by parents that has caused offence.

“As soon as senior leaders were made aware, the form was withdrawn and replaced with one that correctly reflects the school’s ethos.

“We will apologise to all students who received a form today [Thursday] and explain why we believe it was inappropriate to use. We have also emailed parents to apologise.”