Official government school uniform guidance after girl sent home wearing Vivienne Westwood shoes
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We all remember the build up to going back to school and rocking up on the first day with a whole load of new gear —shoes included.
Whether you were a Clarks special kind of kid or the type trying to get away with Rockports, there was always some excitement to show off your new kicks.
Layla Thomson, 11, was one of those who was eager to show off her brand new Vivienne Westwood pumps when she turned up for her first day of high school. But her day was cut short after she was sent home for her £100 shoes because they broke school policy.
The school's policy states: "All families are aware that school shoes should be plain black and polishable, and devoid of fashion logos. Our website offers guidance on eight different styles and we name recommended suppliers.
"This is to ensure consistency across the college, to ensure safety, to protect students from pressure to follow trends, to prevent bullying and to keep costs as low as possible."
The ordeal's left Layla's mum Melissa Pope furious, and she's since hit out at the school for its 'ridiculous' rules.
The 37-year-old said: “My daughter has had her first day at secondary school.
"She's been sitting in a room not learning anything at all and not wanting to go back.
"They've said she can't wear them for health and safety because the shoe doesn't cover the top of the foot.
"I asked if I could get her a loafer and they said that still wasn't acceptable, it had to be a brogue type of shoe.
"I just don't see why, I don't understand it."
Melissa added: “There were so many girls sent home today. It's a school, it's not a camp."
Responding to the criticism, Layla's school, Grace College in Gateshead, explained: "Our uniform is smart, practical and good value and clear guidance on it is provided to families prior to their children joining the college; the policy can also be found within three clicks on our website."
But where do the rules stand when it comes to government advice on the matter? Well, it turns out schools can kind-of make up their own.
As per GOV.UK, it's down to the school governing boards to decide on what kind of uniform pupils will have. The governing board therefore have the authority to choose rules around appearance, whether there should be a school uniform policy and if so, what that should be, and how the uniform should be sourced.
"These duties are placed upon all governing boards by statute to ensure that school policies promote good behaviour and discipline amongst the pupil body," the website further adds.
While the guidance given is non-statuary, the Department of Education 'strongly recommend' that governing boards:
- Engage with parents and pupils when designing their uniform policy or when making any significant changes - these views should be considered in determining the final policy
- Consider how the introduction of the proposed uniform policy might affect groups represented in the school, especially those who share protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010
- Consider how comfortable the proposed uniform will be for pupils
- Take a sensible approach to allow for exceptions to be made during extreme weather, for example, allowing pupils to wear shorts in very hot weather or allowing trousers to be worn instead of skirts in very cold weather
- Ensure that their uniform is suitable and safe for pupils who walk or cycle to school, for instance, by allowing pupils to wear a coat which they could be visible in when it is dark going home
- Choose a PE kit which is practical, comfortable, appropriate to the activity involved and affordable
- Ensure the final policy is published on the school’s website so it is easy for parents (including parents of prospective pupils) to access and understand
- Consider carefully the risk of a challenge to the policy and consider the appropriate insurance cover
As to how complaints like Melissa's should be handled, it says that they 'should be resolved locally and should be pursued in accordance with the school’s complaints policy.'
Legally, a school must have a complaints procedure and it is then expected that the governing board should 'consult and work closely with parents to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome.'
If a pupil doesn't comply with the rules, teachers are able to discipline the individual in accordance with the school’s published behaviour policy.
Who would have thought all of this over shoes. eh?