Many, many thanks to all who have responded so far. Where people have raised concerns and shared their name, we are trying to contact them personally to discuss. We wouldn’t have consulted if we didn’t want to listen!
We have had 160 responses so far, over 90% in favour of both proposals to make Winter uniform optional and to permit black trainers as an alternative to formal school shoes. Just over 80% would prefer any changes to take effect immediately.
Please note that where we propose making Winter uniform optional, we are not talking about making uniform optional per se – just the Autumnal change to wearing the tie. Abandoning uniform totally is not under consideration.
The survey remains open until Monday 6th November: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QBPCNTX
Some responses to points raised, in no particular order:
Some children have sensory needs that make wearing the tie difficult and uncomfortable. Yes, we appreciate this. This is something that has prompted our proposal. Related to this, we know that getting some children into a tie is a barrier to a happy start to the day and can cause conflict at home. We’re no longer convinced it’s a battle worth anyone having to face.
Active Wear would be good right the way through, at least as an option. This is something we have considered too and will take to Governors.In all honesty, we are not sure that this might not be too much of a step away from uniform. We’ll look at it though.
Uniform unifies the community and gives a sense of identity. Yes, we agree which is why we would not consider proposing doing away with uniform. The same sense of identiy exists in the Spring and Summer terms.
Hardly anyone in business wears a tie these days, so why should children? Indeed, the world is changing. We think our proposals reflect that. However, lots of us like ties and like to dress that bit more formally when it suits us. We’re still proposing to keep that option.
It’s a bit hypocritical expecting children to wear ties when adults in school often don’t. Yes, it probably is. We also recognise that some children probably set off for school in a tie whilst an adult in the family is going out to work in a highly responsible job without one!
I like the idea that I won’t need two versions of the uniform. I’ll save money. Yes, this is one of the benefits we’d hoped to bring to families.
Could you change supplier? We’re always looking at this, but it’s a major upheaval to change with no guarantee that people will be happier with a new supplier. We changed to our current suppliers due to complaints about the previous two. Whilst we do see issues and recognise complaints, these seem far fewer than previously and compare well to other schools we’ve benchmarked against. To be fair, we do also get plenty of positive feedback about the current supplier, particularly from people who have experienced others, either with us or in other schools. Remember, you can buy unbranded uniform wherever you wish. Unlike many schools, we do not insist on branding of any items.
Could you get rid of uniform completely? It’s one way of thinking, for sure and it has its advocates. Overall, we still value the sense of community and belonging that uniform brings. School feels more purposeful and calmer on days in uniform, certainly. Putting on uniform (or for adults, whatever work clothes) sets the tone for the day and is a kind of ‘statement of intent’. Then there are the economic and social factors – uniform, to some extent, is levelling and prevents school life becoming an expensive fashion parade.
More freedom to choose means more people will disregard the rules. We recognise that this is possible. Our view is that it will be more realistic for us to consistently enforce the more relaxed Winter rules.We can focus on bigger breaches rather than the presence or otherwise of a tie. We would fully expect compliance with the newly agreed policy.
My child wears his/her school shoes out so quickly playing football at breaks. Yes, this is a common comment. This is why we think trainers should be an option.
Some children already appear to be pushing the limit on active-wear/PE uniform. Yes, some do. Some also might be in non-compliant kit temporarily or even longer-term for a good reason. No one is allowed to just for the sake of it. By and large, our children follow the uniform policy rather well. Visitors comment on how smart they look, in Summer or Winter. Not having to focus on ties would also free us up to concentrate on addressing the small number of genuine problems a bit more. We do expect the uniform policy to be adhered to, but sometimes circumstance prevents it for some children.
I like the ties. So do we. So do lots of the children – they particularly seem to relish wearing the badges they’ve won on them. This is lovely. Some children choose to wear the tie even when it’s not compulsory in the Spring and Summer. Hence, they’d remain an option.
Wearing a tie is good practice for Secondary School. We’d thought this too, but on reflection don’t think that practice is necessary. Children will cope with the change in Year 7, just like they’ll cope with wearing a blazer and survive things like checks that they’re wearing compliant socks! If Primary is just a rehearsal dressing for Secondary, we should keep ties and introduce blazers, issuing detentions when they’re not correct. Truth be told, we’re not entirely convinced that ties and blazers at Secondary are a helpful preparation for modern life either, but we do understand why secondaries have such uniform.
Girls’ school shoes are often just pumps and are typically too flimsy in the Winter. Yes, agreed. Trainers provide another practical option.
Relaxing the uniform is another example of lowering standards in the school. We understand the perception that ties are somehow associated with standards, but standards and expectations at Parkdale are high throughout the year, not just when children are wearing ties. The research body the EEF, who collate evidence from around the world are unable to identify any evidence whatsoever to support the case for uniform as an indicator of or influence on standards. We are not quite sure by which measures standards are thought to be dropping: We post consistently high academic results from Early Years through to Year 6, usually in the top 10-20% nationally and which have been on a ten year upward trend; We have enviable behaviour and personal development, well deserving of the recent OfSTED Outstanding grade, a rare accolade and the first (two) this school has ever had. We are on a recognised and much celebrated continual journey of development. Whatever the outcome on the uniform issue, we will continue to set and achieve high standards.
If you allow trainers, you’ll get all sorts of variations like Converse. We’d thought of that and recognise the possibility. The revised policy would explicitly state “training shoe” and preclude other leisure wear. We’d apply the policy.
School only listens to a few parents – those who shout loudest. This consultation is open to everyone and all views are noted. It is democratic and transparent. It gives everyone an equal voice. The proposal to change the uniform policy has not come from parents, but from staff who are finding applying the current one a distraction from their core business of educating and caring for children.
Your views do matter, do count and remain welcome here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QBPCNTX