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Parents angry as pupils sent home from Academy on first day

Parents are furious after a number of pupils were sent home from a new academy after strict changes to the uniform rules.

The former Swan Valley Community School reopened as Ebbsfleet Academy last Friday.

But the rule changes stating what pupils can and cannot wear lead one person to describe it on Facebook as “Colditz Academy”.

Head teacher Alison Colwell said the majority of parents supported the changes – which they were told about months ago – and those that did not like it were free to move their child to another school.

Holly Beaumont, Maddie Rasoda and Gaenor Beaumont.
Holly Beaumont, Maddie Rasoda and Gaenor Beaumont.

Gaenor Beaumont’s 15-year-old daughter Holly was sent home because she had used an eyebrow pencil.

Mrs Beaumont, of Broad Road, Swanscombe, said: “Holly wasn’t even let in through the doors on Friday when she arrived.

“She came home with a slip of paper saying she wasn’t allowed the eyebrow pencil. She draws them on because she doesn’t have any eyebrows.

“She has her tongue pierced and had an earring – despite allowing it last term.

“A girl of her age doesn’t want to walk around without any eyebrows.

“I only found out when she called me; I never heard anything from the school. Despite all of this, she went back on Monday, exactly the same, and they let her in.”

The new uniform policy at the Southfleet Road school warns parents that it will be enforced “consistently and constantly” in a bid to “avoid unnecessary confrontations and allow staff and students to focus on learning”.

Heather Harman and her son Daniel, who is in Year 9, were told that Daniel’s Kickers shoes were unacceptable because of a little tag attached to them.

Mrs Harman said: “I just think it’s ridiculous, sending my son home because of a tag on his shoes?”

About 30 of the 600-odd pupils were sent home on Friday.

Principal Alison Colwell told the Messenger the vast number of pupils wore the correct uniform.

Principal Alison Colwell
Principal Alison Colwell

She said: “It’s a fact the vast majority support us totally. It’s all about setting standards and expectations. Those saying a little tag doesn’t affect learning is a smoke screen – you either support the school or you don’t.

“We think it’s important that we have a strict policy and it is just a tiny number of people who are moaning – it’s the minority.

“I don’t want to be talking about this – little labels on Kickers – I want to be talking about progress and achievement and getting the results that are going to leave other schools blown out of the water.

“This is a different school. We want them to realise they can be anything they want to be and they’re going to get an excellent education.

“If they don’t like it, they can take their children out of the school and go to one without rules and standards, it’s their choice.”

The uniform guide asks parents to ensure shoes are “plain, black, sturdy leather shoes with wide flat heels” and that “coloured stitching, labels and laces are not permitted”.

Mrs Colwell added: “The Ebbsfleet Academy has an unashamedly strict and clear uniform policy parents, carers and students have all been made aware of.

"It’s a shame a small number chose to try to break the rules on their first day.

"I have been inundated in recent months with emails of support from parents for our high standards and clear rules.”

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