20 June 2024

School defends uniform policy amid ‘isolation’ row

Holderness Academy has responded to criticism of its uniform policy following claims that a pupil was placed “in isolation” for failing to wear a skirt from an “approved supplier”.

One parent alleged that their daughter “was subjected to a 50-minute line-up on the playground… in blazing sun” while the new year sevens’ uniform was inspected.

And celebrities, led by Hull comedian Lucy Beaumont, joined in the row on social media, criticising the school’s requirement to buy items of uniform from Hull-based supplier Rawcliffes, where the cost of a pleated skirt is up to £21.99, compared with £8 for a pack of two from Asda.

Labour MP Mike Amesbury tweeted that the policy “breached the statutory guidance on school uniforms” that he helped to introduce as a result of his private members’ bill.

Holderness Academy’s school uniform policy states that it aims to give “every student a sense of identity, equality and discipline as a member of the Academy community”, “encourages students to feel a sense of pride and a sense of belonging” and “sets clear expectations, ensures health and safety and provides a conducive learning environment for all students in preparation for their future working life”.

However, the Consortium Academy Trust, which runs Holderness Academy, said that, though skirts had to be bought from Rawcliffes, they were optional items of uniform. Plain black trousers – which do not have to be bought from the official supplier – can be worn instead.

It added that the line-ups at the start of the school day were “standard practice” that had previously caused no issues.

A spokesperson for the trust said: “It is normal practice that uniform infringements are identified at the start of the school day, with members of the senior leadership team, tutors and pastoral staff supporting this process.

“Students line up in year areas and messages are shared for the day ahead, with students then entering the building for a calm start to the day. This process usually takes five minutes and has been standard practice for a number of years, without any concerns being raised by parents. Checks at the start of the term may take slightly longer as we embed our expectations at the start of the new term.”

The trust also stressed that help was available for anyone struggling with the cost of school uniform, saying they had given financial assistance to a number of families this term, and pointed out that there was an innovative uniform swap scheme in place at the school.

The spokesperson added: “We have supported a number of parents since the start of term regarding uniform, including providing financial support for those in need.

“We are one of the few schools in the country who work with a local charity to provide parents with heavily discounted recycled uniform to help with the cost. The skirt is an optional item of uniform; trousers may also be worn.”

The trust urged parents affected by the issue to open a dialogue with the school rather than on social media, adding: “We’d like to encourage our parents to continue to communicate with the school directly so we can resolve the small number of ongoing issues.”