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Parents demand review of school uniform policy as poll finds 65% of pupils have been subjected to ‘unreasonable enforcement’

Councillor Julie McKenzie.
Councillor Julie McKenzie.

More than 100 parents have formed a pressure group in response to “draconian” school uniform enforcement in Argyll.

The Oban High School Uniform Reform Group was created after girls were reprimanded for going bare-legged and wearing socks instead of tights as temperatures soared last month.

A survey carried out by the group of 109 parents and guardians revealed that 65% said their child had been subjected to “unreasonable enforcement”.

This ranged from being ordered to wear shared clothing or shoes, being sent home or being taken to the shop to purchase alternative clothing.

Oban High School.

The school is sticking to its guns and in a statement issued through Argyll and Bute Council said the complaints only represent a “small minority” of pupils.

Oban High School’s parent council has also backed the policy.

But the creation of the reform group suggests that the issue doesn’t seem to be going away.

‘The gender discrepancy is severe’

A councillor has written to Argyll and Bute Council’s executive director of customer services Douglas Hendry on behalf of the group asking for a review of the policy.

In her letter, councillor Julie McKenzie requests that enforcement is ceased and an urgent consultation is opened by the school.

A spokeswoman for the Oban High School Uniform Reform Group said: “The main issue is about this enforcement that is going on.

“The gender discrepancy between girls and boys is quite severe.

As temperatures soared, girls at Oban High School were being reprimanded for failing to wear tights.

“Girls are getting pulled up for tights, socks, skirts, blouses, shirts, pretty much everything.

“With boys it seems to be footwear. There is a real gender issue.

“The idea of pulling girls up for what they are wearing when we are talking about 12 to 18-year-olds is really not OK.

“As long as they are wearing something along the lines of school uniform that should be acceptable.

She added that while the group recognises the benefits of a school uniform, the current enforcement is “heavy-handed and inappropriate”.

The official policy

The enforcement seems to be at odds with the council’s official school uniform policy, which states: “Please note that school uniform is not compulsory and it is not policy to insist on pupils wearing uniform or having specialist items of clothing in order to engage in all the activities of the curriculum.

“As such, pupils will not be deprived of any educational benefit as a result of not wearing uniform.”

Councillor Julie McKenzie.

Councillor McKenzie said: “Having examined the council’s school uniform policy myself, it concerns me greatly that reports from parents and pupils only serve to highlight that some of the enforcement tactics at the school appear to be in direct contravention with this policy and its ethos.”

‘This survey reflects a small minority’

In response to the concerns, a spokeswoman for the council said: “This survey reflects a very small minority of our school community.

“1,650 parents and carers have young people who attend Oban High, yet only four parents are expressing concern about the uniform to the school.

“Oban High School follows the council’s uniform policy by promoting clear uniform rules.

“These are supported by almost all pupils and parents, including the Parent Council.”

The local authority also supplied statements from the parent council and the school’s senior leadership team.

‘Really disappointing’

A parent council statement said: “Oban High School’s parent council met with the school’s senior management team and unanimously agreed to back the current school uniform policy.”

A statement issued on behalf of the senior pupil leadership team added: “These comments on social media don’t represent how the vast majority of pupils at Oban High feel about the school uniform, most of whom are happy to wear it.

“It’s really disappointing that these negative comments are detracting from how good the school is.”

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