A school in Kent has hit the headlines for sending around 50 students home on their first day of school for wearing the 'wrong' school uniform.
Apparently police were called to the school after parents and pupils protested about the school's harsh approach to enforcing its school uniform policy.
According to the papers, children were sent home if their shoes or trousers did not match the stipulations of the school's uniform code, and one parent reported that her child was denied entry to the school because of gold-coloured buckles on her black shoes.
It was also reportedly the new headteacher's first day so it seems he was keen to make his mark and enforce a stricter uniform policy from day one.
I'm going to get mauled in the comments for saying this but I'm with the headteacher on this, at least in theory.
No, I don't think children should be sent home for having the wrong uniform - surely a letter could be issued to parents first - and yes, I think this was an overly heavy-handed approach, especially for first year students attending the school for their first day.
But as the mother of a child who has just started High School, I've got to say that I suddenly see the value of a strict uniform policy. Why? Because my son has risen to the challenge of being smart and presentable as per his school's uniform code, and his determination to avoid falling foul of the school's strict uniform rules has already carried through to other aspects of his attitude to school – and, indeed, life in general.
Going to a school that enforces a fairly strict school uniform policy - top shirt buttons must never be undone and shirts must always be tucked in, for example - has encouraged my son to take pride in his appearance, which isn't something he gave any real thought to at primary school.
I could hardly believe my eyes or ears when he came home from school on his first day and hung up his blazer whilst deftly delivering me a pep talk about the importance of respect for one's appearance. Where did the kid go who used to ball his clothes up on the floor of his bedroom?
I don't agree that this approach to enforcing school uniform is all about headteachers going on power trips or schools trying to turn kids into unthinking automatons. And shouldn't we be focussing on the parents who send their kids to school in clothes that they know break the rules? Never mind the poor headteacher trying to do his job and improve standards in a 'scruffy' school, what are those parents thinking?
Would I be happy if my son had been sent home on his very first day of school for having the wrong trousers or having his tie askew? Of course not. I think it's a mistake for schools to put adherence to the school uniform policy above the wellbeing of students, and kicking them out on day one is a step too far.
There should be a measure of grace or leniency around school uniform policies and kids should have the chance to get it wrong before serious action is taken.
I'm just saying that all the pearl-clutching hysteria that I've read about this story misses a crucial point; encouraging kids to take pride in their appearance isn't really just about whether they're wearing the wrong trousers. It's about shaping their whole attitude to life and encouraging them to have respect for boundaries – and, ultimately, for themselves.
Sorry, but in my book that's no bad thing.
TOPICS: Parenting Tips