North School head teacher Lesley Ellis
Parents say 60 pupils were sent home from Ashford's North School on Tuesday for not wearing the new uniform.
Head teacher Lesley Ellis defended her tough action on the first day back after the summer holidays, claiming the new uniform was brought in to make things easier for parents.
She said: “It is clear from our uniform guide that students who do not comply will be sent home.”
Her move has angered many parents who accused her of heavy-handedness in making sure pupils adhered to the school’s new uniform policy.
Mother-of-two Karen Jackson, whose 15-year-old daughter was among those turned away, said: “My daughter and 60 others got sent home for not wearing the correct uniform.”
Parent Tracey Harvey said: “Out of 25 children in my daughter’s class there were eight left after uniform checks.”
Starting this term, the North School introduced a new policy for pupils in Years 7-11, demanding they all wear either school trousers or a school skirt with the school’s logo on it, as well as wearing the school’s sweatshirt and polo shirt, which also both include the school’s logo.
“I’m furious and I know there are a lot of angry parents. My daughter is a top student and works her socks off, just to be told off about her uniform" - parent Lisa Tomlinson
Ms Jackson said: “My daughter and 60 others got sent home for not wearing the correct uniform. I was told she was sent home for having a pink streak in her hair, for wearing trousers without the logo on and for wearing the wrong shoes.
“The changes to uniform are very new and my daughter went to school on Tuesday wearing the same clothing and shoes as she had last term.
“She also had a pink streak in her hair last term, but now we have been told this isn’t allowed.”
On Tuesday, some students were given a pass that will allow them to wear other trousers for the time being.
Lisa Tomlinson says she was irritated when her daughter was taken out of lessons on Tuesday.
She said: “I’m furious and I know there are a lot of angry parents. My daughter is a top student and works her socks off, just to be told off about her uniform.
“I did go to buy the new school skirt, but they didn’t have any in the shop. She is wearing last year’s school skirt, so it should still be acceptable. They’ve changed the uniform so many times it is a joke.”
The badge on the North School uniform
Penny Bigwood, of Christchurch Road, was also frustrated when her 15-year-old son was sent home from the school on Tuesday.
She said: “There were two issues we were told. He had a piercing in his ear and he didn’t have the logo on his trousers."
“My son is 6ft 3in tall. It is really difficult to get trousers for him. I have to get him men’s black trousers from Asda. It is ridiculous he was sent home. He is in Year 11, an important year. My son told me they’ve sent over 60 children home."
Mrs Bigwood’s son has been told that to have the logo sewn onto his Asda trousers, he will first need to get an approval letter from the school.
She added: “I will get the logo stitched on for £2.50 as I refuse to pay for another pair of trousers. I’ll have to get it done at the weekend though.”
Head Lesley Ellis, who would not confirm how many children had been sent home, said her decision to send a pupil home was based on whether or not they were dressed appropriately.
She said: “I sent children home on Tuesday in line with the school’s policy on uniform. It is clear from our uniform guide that students who do not comply will be sent home.
“We tried to make sure it was easy for parents by asking for all students to wear the same trouser or skirt.
“We deal with concerns about school uniform on an individual basis, including a hardship fund to help parents where there are serious financial issues.
“We have two suppliers, CMDL and Pages, who both supply quality uniform that is good value for money.
“School uniform is important and a primary indicator of a student’s willingness to co-operate with any school rules and procedures.
“My staff need to spend their time helping students with their learning, not dealing with uniform issues.
“The parents here are very supportive and understand the need for their child to wear the correct uniform.”