Scores of teenage girls have been sent home on their first day back in the classroom for wearing skirts that are deemed too short.
Dozens of schoolgirls at Tring School have been picked up by their parents this morning (Friday) after their uniforms were judged to be inappropriate by teachers. And the town’s school uniform supplier Almar is reporting a queue of around 100 girls waiting to buy replacement skirts at its High Street store.
The strict crackdown on skirt lengths, which according to the school’s own uniform policy must be ‘knee length and be of a pleated design’, has left parents furious.
Mum Lisa Thompson said: “This is disappointing on their first day back. They went in excited to start a new term and see who’s in their classes and now they’ve been sent home.”
In July, the school’s assistant headteacher Gayle Raybould wrote to parents to stress the uniform expectations for when students returned to the classroom this week.
The letter included images of unsuitable skinny jeans and Lycra skirts to hammer home the message.
In the letter Mrs Raybould said: “Having chosen Tring School for your child, you have agreed to uphold our values and rules. I would ask that you show your support for the school and your child’s education, by ensuring they are wearing the correct uniform throughout the year and thus avoid being sent home or placed into isolation.”
But it seems that the message did not get through to some parents as girls from Year 7, who started the school year yesterday, and girls from older years who returned to the classroom today have been sent home.
A dad, whose daughter was among those sent home today, said: “I had to go and pick up my daughter this morning, after she was rejected on her first day back at school. Trying to get teenage girls to go to school is hard enough, but Mrs Collings appears to be on a mission and showing off.
“There were streams of girls being sent home, and those that can’t get picked up because their parents are at work have been put in seclusion at school so they’re being doubly punished.
“It’s ludicrous for a school to act in this way.
“We fretted over this for weeks before my daughter went back. We looked at her skirt last night and this morning, and it’s down to her knee. And when I went to pick my daughter up, all the girls being sent home looked perfectly respectable to me.”
“This is bullying. Kids have no voice, they just get shown up. It’s a terrible thing.”
“I can’t see my daughter wanting to go back to this school for another three years if it’s going to be like this.”
A mum, who bought her Year 9 daughter’s skirt from M&S said: “The handling of this situation is disgraceful.
“Young insecure women being reprimanded so publicly and actually being refused entry to the property and left standing on the pavement in tears.
“Parents not informed by the school directly. Some children from the villages stranded in the town, no way home and parents at work. Where was their duty of care? Our skirt was to the knee and not a ‘belt’”
Director at Almar Carolyn Sanders said: “We have about 100 girls at the moment queuing for skirts. We are doing everything we can to help people and we are ordering skirts if we haven’t got them in at the moment.”
She said the longest skirt they can offer at the moment is 22 inches and is available in all waist sizes.
It is understood that another of the school’s uniform suppliers is offering a longer skirt at 24 inches for taller girls.
Carolyn said: “To be fair to the school they did put warnings out everywhere that they would do this, and we were aware of it so we were careful with what we sold and the advice we gave.”
The shop director said there were similar scenes in the store yesterday when Year 7 students started the school year.
A statement issued by headteacher Mrs Collings this afternoon said: “In the summer Tring School achieved very good results at both GCSE and A Level. In 2014 it was warmly praised by Ofsted in all areas of learning, teaching, leadership and pastoral support. The school strives to continuously improve in all areas on our journey to be a truly outstanding school.
“We believe that students looking smart and professional is an important element of being a successful school. We also believe that if students are consistently dressed in the correct uniform it enables us to focus on teaching and learning. As such we have a school uniform policy that has been in place for some time that is adhered to by the large majority of the students. The most contentious issue, though, is the style and length of the skirt worn by the girls. If a student or parent is unhappy with the policy in respect of the school skirt then they have the choice to wear tailored trousers.
“In the summer of 2015 the school leadership and governors decided to be firmer in upholding the uniform policy. All parents were written to, explanations were placed on the website and also on Facebook and Twitter. Students were also told about the more strict enforcement of the rules. No parent or student should be able to claim that they were not made aware of the uniform policy.
“Today the vast majority have arrived at school correctly dressed and ready for lessons. They have been praised for their efforts and thanked for following the uniform rules. In our communications we stated that students who were incorrectly dressed will be told to improve their uniform to the necessary standard before attending lessons. If students were able to immediately go home and then return in the correct uniform they would be welcomed into lessons today. If students could not go home, or didn’t have the correct clothes, then they would be supervised in school and they would be expected to acquire the correct uniform over the weekend before going to lessons on Monday.
“We are aware that some parents have expressed their dissatisfaction via social media and also radio stations. Tring School and the very large majority of the students and parents are very proud of our values, achievements and aspirations and it is disappointing to hear and read a number of things today which are neither informed nor accurate. “The school has stated our expectations and consequences explicitly and repeatedly.
“We have has also received many letters and comments praising the school for addressing inappropriate uniform. Most parents want to see their children wearing their uniform correctly and with pride.
“The school remains committed to raising standards in every single way. Over 95 per cent of students are in school today in the correct uniform and enjoying the start of their year. Most of the remainder will purchase the correct uniform over the weekend and will come to school looking smart and professional and ready for their lessons on Monday. We would like to thank our students and their parents for their continued support for Tring School.”
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