“It’s on the borderline of being crazy” – Row over crackdown on uniform at Suffolk school
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A number of parents have spoken out after the staff at Stowupland High clamped down on school uniform, with many expected to replace items that were deemed acceptable last year.
Trevor Fishlock, whose son is in Year 10, said he was “really frustrated” to learn that the teenager had been handed a detention for wearing the same pair of shoes that had only recently earned him a note praising his smart appearance.
“My son’s first detention at the age of 14 is going to be because I sent him to school in shoes that were acceptable last year,” he said.
“That didn’t affect his learning last year. I am really frustrated.”
Referencing another parent and friend, he added: “Both of our sons got postcards last year saying how smart they were.
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“Shoes are not cheap – these Converses were £50. I will go and buy new shoes when he has grown out of them.”
He acknowledged that parents had received a newsletter warning them about strict uniform standards over the summer, but argued that expectations were unreasonable – especially when items that were previously deemed acceptable were now forbidden on school turf.
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“With all due respect they did send an email out from the school about shoes in the summer,” he said. “This is where the controversy is. I think there should be some consistency – there are still kids walking round in Converse.
“I think they need to be focusing on children who are smoking outside the school or fixing the path that the students walk on.”
Mr Fishlock said that he had “nothing against the education at the school,” but found the fixation on uniform irritating and unnecessary.
“If my son had gone to school with piercings in the wrong place I can understand it,” he said. “But not a detention for schoolwear that is acceptable. If they want to smarten the school uniform up a bit put them in a shirt and tie and not a polo shirt.”
He added: “Nobody at the school has spoken to me yet. I tweeted them and they haven’t got back to me.”
Dean Last, whose 14-year-old son is also in Year 10, said the school had become “obsessed” with what children were wearing.
“It is on the borderline of being crazy,” he said. “I understand if children are at school wearing white trainers... The footwear that they are creating an issue over – there is nothing wrong with it.”
He added his son, who is wearing the same shoes as last year, had only recently received a note congratulating him on his smart appearance.
“He’s wearing a pair of Vans, which they deem to be inappropriate for schoolwear,” he said. “It just makes no sense at all – my son actually got a certificate sent through the post congratulating him on his appearance last year.
“There are far bigger issues going on in the world than the footwear that my son has on his feet.
“He’s going to carry on wearing them and if he gets detention we won’t be taking him.”
Mr Last said the situation was worsened by a lack of communication from the school.
“I would like the school to contact us so we know what’s going on ourselves,” he said.
“He was told yesterday. We have had no correspondence from the school – it has all come from my son.”
Wendy Baster, headteacher at Stowupland High, said the uniform expectation was “the same as in previous years”.
She said: “Stowupland High School has had a very positive start to the academic year and I am delighted with the very high standards being set across the school.
“Our uniform expectations are published on our school website along with information about how to apply for our uniform assistance. The uniform expectation is the same as in previous years.
“Last term, we sent a number of reminders to parents about our uniform guidelines to ensure parents had enough time over the summer holidays to purchase the correct uniform. These reminders included specifications about the right footwear. Trainers are not part of school uniform.
“We will continue to work with parents and carers to bring about the very best for our young people and our focus will continue to be on achieving excellent teaching and learning and ‘outstanding progress for all’ in a calm and focussed learning environment.”
The newsletter sent out by the school in July used images to illustrate which footwear is permitted, alongside items which would not be considered suitable.
“Suitable” items include leather-like footwear such as simple brogues and black velcro shoes. Both Converse and Vans shoes feature on the forbidden list.
The letter states: “Shoes should be black leather or leather-like, traditional, well constructed and weather-proof with a low heel.
“Sporty styling makes them a trainer and the more pieces stitched together the more like a trainer it is.
“Just because the shop says that it is a shoe, does not mean it meets Stowupland High School uniform expectations.
“The final decision on whether a shoe is acceptable will rest with the headteacher, deputy or assistant headteacher.
“All examples shown are not an attempt to cover all possible options. This will, however, serve as a helpful guide when buying school shoes in line with school guidelines and suitable for Stowupland High School.”