‘Mandatory sleepover’ for first-year students at Sydney private school sparks outrage

'Mandatory sleepover' for first-year students at Sydney private school sparks outrage

A row over children as young as seven being forced to take part in a ‘compulsory sleepover’ at their school has erupted after a woman revealed she was worried about her niece attending the event.

A concerned aunt, whose niece attends a private school in Sydney, shared details of the event on the Sydney North Shore Mums Facebook page, noting that most children at that age never slept.

In the post that went viral, the aunt explained that her niece’s school had announced that all year one students must attend a sleepover in the school’s library in a few weeks.

The aunt reported that the school said sleepovers were ‘mandatory’ at information nights at the start of the year and in subsequent newsletters.

Compulsory school sleepovers (pictured) are common in many Australian schools and from grades one to six.

‘My niece is only seven and many of her friends are younger,’ said the concerned aunt.

‘Most of them, including my niece, didn’t sleep anywhere.

‘My brother and his wife are quite worried about it and, of course, they trust their child with their rules, but the school is putting a lot of pressure on them to do it.

‘In response to how it relates to the school curriculum, the principal said it’s about teaching them fitness and resilience.

‘They don’t have social skills but they wonder how other parents will feel about this…?’

The woman, who did not name the Sydney school, ended her post by asking: ‘Do you think this is inappropriate at this age?’

Hundreds of other parents responded with the majority saying the sleepover was highly inappropriate and potentially illegal.

One commenter wrote: ‘It’s so weird that they’re making it mandatory (which they legally can’t)’.

Another said: ‘It has nothing to do with age. It is inappropriate for the school to say that it is compulsory for any age group They cannot send your child to a school camp at any age.’

And a third wrote: ‘What kind of school mandates this activity? I find it very suspicious.’

Then others raised safety concerns.

‘Honestly, it sounds like a pedophile who wants the chance to be with unsupervised children. Hard no from me, especially when the school is ‘pressuring’ parents,’ said one.

‘Agreed! Schools can’t force it,’ responded another.

‘There are other ways to build resilience. Sounds like an excuse to me.’

One mother added: ‘Over my dead body. Sleepovers are one of the things child abuse officials warn about even when supervised.

‘Absolutely insane that a school would pressure parents to voluntarily and actively put their children in potential harm’s way. Even if it is not mandatory, it is negligent.

‘There is plenty of evidence to suggest why it is so dangerous. Is it really worth the risk? There are many more beautiful activities and ‘resilience’ building moments in life that are far less risky.’

Many other parents have noted that children still have trouble sleeping at this age, being away from their parents.

‘I think it’s incredibly inappropriate at this age, especially as night time accidents can be a regular occurrence for some kids at this age and only exacerbated by stress,’ one noted.

‘There are probably kids who still wet the bed or wear a ‘pull-up’, or sleep with a comforter that is ‘secret’ – it’s not fair on them,’ added another mum.

Other parents noted that sleeping at school is common practice in Victoria and South Australia.

‘Sleeping is normal for schools in Victoria from first grade upwards. My kids have all participated and as an educator, I’ve been there for some of them too,’ says a mother from Melbourne.

‘It’s a fun event and the kids love it. No more mandatory than any other camp but the kids all want to attend.’

Another woman claiming to be a teacher wrote: ‘It’s actually how many parents said “no” to this… I think it’s right, it could be a great way for students to experience independence from their parents for a night. . Their friends.’


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