Dress codes in school is nothing new. Back when I was in school, most of the dress codes involved girls, of course, and how much skin they could show (no spaghetti straps, shorts and skirts had to be as long as your fingertips at your side, etc.). In other cases, schools require uniforms so that kids are (or at least look) equal when it comes to appearances.
While some school districts have gotten less intense about dress codes (because most are sexist and weird!) in recent years, other schools are doubling down.
One British school has come under fire after allegedly punishing several students on their first day of school after they all wore inappropriate clothing that went against the school’s code of conduct.
So, what were they wearing? Designer kicks.
Students attending Grace College in Gateshead were sent home on their first day for wearing incorrect shoes, including an 11-year-old student donning Vivienne Westwood flats on her feet.
According to reports, the 11-year-old’s mom said her daughter spent the day in “isolation” before being picked up by her grandmother and now does not want to return to the school.
She described the school’s response as “disgusting” and “ridiculous.”
“My daughter has had her first day at secondary school. She’s been sitting in a room not learning anything at all and not wanting to go back,” she told ChronicleLive.
“They’ve said she can’t wear them for health and safety because the shoe doesn’t cover the top of the foot. I asked if I could get her a loafer and they said that still wasn’t acceptable, it had to be a brogue type of shoe.”
She went on to explain that her daughter had worn the same shoes for the last two years and didn’t have any problems.
“I think it’s just a power thing. There were so many girls sent home today,” she vented.
“The only thing it’s done today is disrupt a whole school. She hasn’t done anything or had any lessons. She doesn’t know what the school is like. She’s just been stuck in a room.”
Another student was sent home for wearing black Nike walking boots.
The mother the boy said she had to leave work to pick up her son. She claims she was asked if she could take another student home with her as well as their parents were at work — even though she was at work too.
The woman said she is “absolutely livid” with the situation.
She said, “It’s a Nike walking boot — he walks to school and back everyday, and they are robust. They want them to wear office shows, like brogues. That’s not good for them to walk to school in, especially in the rain.”
The Nike shoe, featured in an image on ChronicleLive, appears to be a standard, all-black high top Nike sneaker. Nothing totally extreme or out of the ordinary.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous, a shoe is a shoe. Fair enough if it was white converse or bright trainers but they’re shoes. It doesn’t change how they’re educated. It doesn’t make any difference what they wear on their feet. Uniforms are expensive enough,” she continued.
“He’s been home for six weeks, I want him back to a routine. He needs his education. He hasn’t been able to get his timetable.”
After the outrage from parents, Grace College told their side of the issue.
Grace College told ChronicleLive that school shoes should be plain black and have no fashion logos to ensure consistency across the college, ensure safety and protect students from pressure to follow trends.
This sentiment seems great in theory. Sounds like the school wants kids to feel equal to one another. No one feels left out or less than because they can’t wear Vivienne Westwood shoes or Nikes. However, it’s hard to enforce these rules without getting pushback from upset parents who can afford their kids these designer labels.
The school insists that before school begins, all parents are made aware of the school’s dress code expectations for students.
A spokesperson for Grace College said, “Grace College is proud of its uniform for the professional image it portrays, and we expect students to wear it with pride.”
“We aim for high standards at all times and wearing the correct uniform in the correct way is a significant and important starting point in setting and maintaining these standards. Our uniform policy is designed to be fair, equal and affordable to all students, which is especially important during a cost of living crisis.”
“Our uniform is smart, practical and good value and clear guidance on it is provided to families prior to their children joining the college; the policy can also be found within three clicks on our website.”
According to the school’s website, all students must wear “plain, sensible black shoes” and “tags or logos are not permitted”, while the top of the foot must be fully covered “for safety reasons.”