Dozens of pupils suspended over Facebook hate site

Dozens of girls have been suspended from school for setting up a defamatory Facebook site about a teacher.

The pupils at Grey Coat Hospital School in Westminster, London, signed up as members of the page, named The Hate Society.

The 29 girls were suspended for between two and 15 days from December 23.

The site has been taken down and most of the pupils, aged between 11 and 18, will be back in school on Tuesday.

It is understood the teacher concerned is receiving counselling.

Headteacher Rachel Allard said: "We can confirm that a number of pupils have been given fixed term exclusions for between two and 15 days after the school became aware of their involvement in a hate campaign about a member of staff using an open Facebook group.

"While the offending material has been removed from the website, the school's decision to exclude these pupils temporarily was not taken lightly and has been designed to send a strong message to our whole school community that we do not tolerate such behaviour.

"The vast majority of parents who have been to see me about this incident are supportive of the school and understand why we have taken firm disciplinary action."

Grey Coat is a Church of England school for girls aged between 11 and 18.

A spokesman for Westminster City Council said: "We support the school's decision to temporarily exclude these pupils. We are providing advice and support for the school during this time."

The school traces its beginnings to 1698 when it was founded by local churchgoers to educate the poor of the parish and make them 'loyal citizens, useful workers and solid Christians'.

Pupils are expected to follow a code of conduct which states they should 'avoid behaving in a way which is threatening, rude, hurtful or humiliating'