Sixth-formers to be ‘suited and booted’ in dress code changes at Felixstowe Academy

Is this how sixth form students should dress?

Is this how sixth form students should dress? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sixth-formers at a Suffolk academy have been left fuming after casual dress was banned – and the boys were told they must wear suits and ties while girls should choose skirts of a ‘sensible length’.

Felixstowe Academy, in High Road, Walton. Inset, head teacher Anthony Williams

Felixstowe Academy, in High Road, Walton. Inset, head teacher Anthony Williams - Credit: Archant

Like students at most schools, those at Felixstowe Academy have enjoyed the age-old dress-down tradition of moving into the sixth form to wear relaxing t-shirts and jeans after years of strict school uniform.

Under a new dress code though the 16 to 18 year olds have been told by new principal Anthony Williams that they will now be required to wear suits “to ensure their overall appearance is of a professional standard suitable to a business environment”.

The school believes the move is key to raising standards and will have an impact on the culture and ethos of the academy.

Male students must wear:

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• Suit or smart jacket and tailored trousers

• Shirt. Ties are desirable but not essential

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• Plain round or V-neck jumpers or waistcoats are permitted under the jacket

• Smart leather or leather-type shoes

While their female classmates should wear:

• Jacket with matching skirt, dress or full length tailored trousers

• Shirt or blouse with collar

• Plain round or V-neck jumpers or cardigans are permitted under the jacket

• Smart leather or leather-type shoes

Flip flops, large earrings, shaved heads and facial hair are all on the banned list.

Girls are expected to wear suits, full-length trousers or skirts with jackets and smart shoes.

But students and parents are shocked and angry about the situation – particularly the cost, which some have estimated at between £175 and £220. More than 500 have signed a Facebook petition.

They were also only told of the changes three days before the start of the new term, though the school has now extended the deadline until October.

One student, who asked not to be named, said: “When I first saw the letter I was so shocked! We had no pre warning that this was going to be sent to us.

“The rules were so strict considering there was no real structured uniform policy before.

“The fact that they gave us three days to buy completely new clothing was outrageous, especially because half the clothes they were expecting us to purchase are quite expensive.”

One parent said: “They should get their priorities right and think about student learning not what they wear, especially in sixth form.

“Sixth form is for young adults not kids – not all forms of employment require suits, so why should they be forced to wear them in school?”

Mr Williams said: “Our Sixth Form students will be an integral part of the positive changes within the academy.

“Whilst we are sensitive to the financial implication for some families and will offer support where possible, we need to promote a strong ethos that reflects our high aspirations and expectations for all students.

“I have experienced first hand, the significant impact that a smart dress code can have on the overall culture and ethos of a school. Needless to say, this has contributed to those schools becoming Outstanding.”

What do you think? Should sixth formers adopt a smarter dress code or should they be allowed to wear trainers and jeans to school?

Vote in our online poll or leave your comments below.

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