Blackheath newsagent bans an entire school

Spotted in the window of the Blackheath Village branch of Martin McColl newsagents…

Justified reaction to trouble or the thin end of a nasty wedge? I’ve no idea what the students at Thomas Tallis School in Kidbrooke have done, but is it fair to punish an entire school for the misdemeanours of a few? Is this even enforceable? Your considered thoughts would be appreciated.

One thing’s for sure – whoever wrote the sign might like to return to school to correct their grammar…


  1. It is private premises and therefore a civil matter so the person in charge of the premises (manager/owner) can ban anyone else from their private property. The issue is enforcement.

    Another way of asking one of the above questions would be, “Is it fair for the shop to have suffered so much at the hands of school children that they feel compelled to excluded them all?”

  2. Awful. How do they get away with that?! They even use the official school logo on the sign!

    Totally illegal.

    Good work taking the photo Darryl, maybe you should email it to the school?

    (When I was a kid it was just a blanket ban on all children!)

  3. Absolutely justified. Have you never encountered the TT school children on the bus in the afternoon – they stand out, and not in a good way, and for years and years past.

    The shop must have suffered a lot of theft and be losing a lot of money for them to do something this public. Is probably to put pressure on the school head.

    “whoever wrote the sign might like to return to school to correct their grammar…”

    English is not the first language of the people who run and work in that shop. How’s your Sinhalese?

  4. Lara

    It isn’t illegal at all. Neither the sign nor the right to bar people from your establishment (with provisos, of course).

  5. But how do we know that the signwriter didn’t learn his/her grammar at Thomas Tallis in the first place?

    And, anyway, among all the badly worded public notices around us this is not among the most blameworthy: all those trains that will be ‘terminated’ when they reach Cannon Street; the numerous signs for, eg potatoe’s; tills for ’10 items or less’ rather than fewer’?

    Grumpy old man blog? anyone?

  6. Clusterfck

    Fair enough, but my main problem is the specific finger pointing at the school. Seems a tad harsh, but maybe I am ignorant as I don’t live near TT. Many children are stupid and annoying but do all the children at TT deserve to be banned?

  7. Thin end of the wedge.

    Trespass is a civil, not criminal offence so its unlikely plod will get involved. (Aggravated trespass is different).

    My kids go to Tallis and like any other school in the district there are nice kids and there are numpties.

    Presumably the propietors are franchisees. I doubt that a chain such as Martin McColl would agree to such a blanket ban.

    I think I shall send my daughter in there in plain clothes to see if she can beat the ban, which poresumably can only apply to those kids in uniform. Or do they ask every person under the age of 18 what school they go to?

  8. Chris J.

    Lets not make a mountain out of a mole hill here. Kids have been banned from various shops and periods of time for donkeys years. It was happening when I was at school about 1 million years ago.

    However, sending your child in to beat the ban seems a bit pointless. Surely you have far superior methods of surveillance or intelligence gathering? (click on your name next to your pic)

  9. @ChrisI
    “I think I shall send my daughter in there in plain clothes to see if she can beat the ban”

    Sounds a bit abusive and vindictive, to me.

    “I doubt that a chain such as Martin McColl would agree to such a blanket ban.”

    There speaks the voice of ignorance. The franchisees have to do whatever is in the interests of their company. That includes taking preventive measures to prevent theft and damage.

    “do all the children at TT deserve to be banned?”

    Deserve doesn’t come into it. More important is the right of the shop staff to work in peace, and not have the extra expense of employing security staff. And other customers to shop in peace.

    I find it a bit ominous that no one is suggesting that TT children should be better behaved. Why don’t you respect the rights of the shop workers?

  10. When I lived opposite TT 25 years ago I would dread walking down KP Rd. at kicking out time. Back then they had the same reputation for after school behaviour. I was pushed in the road, spat at, shouted abuse, brick in my car window for asking kids to leave my driveway, my dog threatened…the list goes on. I don’t blame the shop owner one bit.

  11. Nothing wrong with good old-fashioned words such as ‘ignorance’ surely – simply means lack of knowledge. Would ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about’ have been better?

    I struggle to see how asking your child to pop into the newsagents while wearing clothes other than their school uniform can be seen as abusive and vindictive though.

    As for the sign itself, wee notices that only two schoolkids at a time are allowed have been around for decades – I’m not sure what I make of them, or of this one, but maybe banning uniform-wearing kids from one particular school is more proportionate than simply banning all children.

    And I wonder what has provoked it – I tend to assume that it’s not been done lightly, so what have certain children done that leads to such a sign being seen as necessary?

  12. Just got home from an errand to Blackheath – that poster has been replaced by the more common “Only 2 Schoolkids at a time, please” poster.

  13. Indigo – The mention I made of sending my daughter into the shops was merely to point out that the ‘ban’ applied to kids in TT uniform. How can the staff tell if someone goes to Tallis if they’re not wearing uniform? Obviously I was too obscure for you. Sorry.

    ‘There speaks the voice of ignorance.’

    Hmmm, perhaps you are ignorant of the fact that I contacted Martin McColl’s head office to see if they were aware of the Tallis ban. They weren’t and were quite shocked.

    I wonder if that was the reason why the sign has been replaced with a perfectly reasonable ‘two schoolkids at a time’ sign??!!

  14. I’ve also just got back from Blackheath and a sign with the same wording and TT school logo is still there although it seems to be rather smaller than the one in the picture above (assuming that is an A4 piece of paper which it’s hard to tell without something else in the photo to provide perspective).

    Personally, I find it pretty difficult to differentiate between this and a sign saying “No blacks”, “No whites”, “No gays” or “No women”. Anecdotal evidence of perceived misbehaviour is not enough to justify collective punishment.

  15. The Thomas Tallis notice has now gone.

    I spoke to the shop’s manager to find out more about why the notice had gone up in the first place. It seems there’s been a problem for a while now, in which a group of TT pupils have a different individual go in and steal while others on the look-out to make sure shop staff are distracted elsewhere. The notice went up in frustration after the manager spoke to the the TT deputy head who apparently seemed unwilling to take any action and simply suggested that it be reported to the police.

    The manager said that the Blackheath Safer Neighbourhood police have actually done a pretty good job in getting profiles and warning students in the area that they are watching the shop carefully, and there hasn’t been a problem since.

    She did say that there had been a similar but short-lived problem with pupils from St Matthew Academy beforehand, but that the head there had taken it very seriously – held an investigation, found the culprits and warned all pupils they would be banned from going into the shop by the school. Shows what can be done, and proud St Matthew’s in my ward too!

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