Sydney private school’s ‘compulsory sleepover’ for Year One students sparks outrage

A debate about children as young as seven being forced to take part in a ‘mandatory sleepover’ at their school has sparked after a woman revealed she was concerned that her niece was attending the event.

The concerned aunt, whose niece attends private school in Sydney, shared details of the event on the Sydney North Shore Mums Facebook page, pointing out that most children at that age have never experienced a sleepover.

In the post that has since disappeared viralthe aunt explained that her niece’s school had announced that all first grade students would have to attend a sleepover in the school library in a few weeks.

The aunt stated that the school said staying over was ‘compulsory’ at the information evening at the start of the year and in subsequent newsletters.

Mandatory school sleepovers (pictured) are common in many Australian schools and range 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, have never stayed anywhere.

“My brother and his wife are quite concerned about it and of course they believe that their child is following their rules, but the school is putting a lot of pressure on them to do it.

Commenting on how it relates to the school curriculum, the principal said it’s about well-being and resilience learning.

“They have no social contacts, but they wonder how other parents would feel about this…?”

The woman, who did not name the Sydney school, concluded her message by asking, “Do you think this is inappropriate at that age?”

Hundreds of other parents responded, the majority claiming the sleepover was wildly inappropriate and possibly illegal.

One commenter wrote, “That’s so weird they’re making it mandatory (which they legally can’t).”

Another said, “Age has nothing to do with it. It is inappropriate for the school to state that it is compulsory for every age group. They cannot ‘force’ you to send your child to a school camp at any age.’

And a third wrote, “What kind of school requires this activity? To me this is just highly suspicious.’

Subsequently, others expressed safety concerns.

Frankly, this sounds like a pedophile wanting the chance to be with unsupervised children. Hard no from me, especially when the school “pressures” parents,” someone said.

‘Agree! Schools cannot enforce this,’ another commented.

“There are other ways to build resilience. Seems like an excuse to me.’

One mother added, “Over my dead body. Sleepovers are one of the things child abuse officers warn about, even when supervised.

“Absolutely insane for a school to pressure parents to voluntarily and actively endanger their children. That is negligent, even though it is not required.

“There is enough evidence to show why this is so dangerous. Is it really worth the risk? There are so many other fun activities and ‘resilience’ building moments in life that are much less risky.’

A host of other parents commented that kids at this age still have trouble sleeping, let alone being away from their parents.

“I think it’s incredibly inappropriate at this age, especially as nighttime accidents are a regular occurrence for some kids at this age and are only exacerbated by stress,” said one.

“There may be kids who still wet the bed or wear pull-ups, or sleep with a duvet that’s a ‘secret’ – this isn’t very fair to them,” another mom added.

Other parents pointed out that school sleepovers are normal in Victoria and South Australia.

‘In Victoria it is quite normal for schools to accommodate from first grade. My kids have all taken part and as an educator I’ve been there for a few too,” said a mother from Melbourne.

“It’s such a fun event and the kids love it. No more compulsory than any other camp, but the children all wanted to come along.’

Another woman who also claimed to be a teacher wrote, “It’s actually worrying how many parents are flat out saying ‘no’ to this…I think if done right it could be a great way for students to experience their parent’s independence for a night with their friends.”