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Cornwallis Academy excludes pupils and bans parent in row over students wearing skinny trousers

By David Gazet

A row over uniform has kicked up a gear when a parent was banned from a school site for aggressive and threatening behaviour towards the vice principal.

On Monday Cornwallis Academy in Hubbards Lane, Boughton Monchelsea in a crackdown on those flouting its existing uniform policy.

This bans students from wearing make-up, piercings and trainers, while girls are prohibited from wearing leggings, jeans or tightly-fitted trousers.

Rio Huet and his daughter Nerissa, Amanda Cundall and her daughter Libby, who were caught up in a uniform row in 2015
Rio Huet and his daughter Nerissa, Amanda Cundall and her daughter Libby, who were caught up in a uniform row in 2015

But tempers soon flared and the mother and grandmother of a student who clashed with vice principal Will Pemberton were told if they set foot on the Cornwallis site again police would be called.

Students who arrived in the incorrect uniform were given spare trousers or skirts. Those who refused to put them on were put into detention. Several students were then excluded for several days for unacceptable behaviour towards staff.

But some parents have hit out at the ‘ridiculous’ rules and have launched an online campaign calling for the school to allow girls to wear the fashionable ‘skinny’ trousers.

In a letter sent home in October acting principal Isabelle Linney-Drouet warned pupils had to comply with uniform rules when they returned from half-term.

She said: “Unfortunately the current standard of uniform does not meet expectations for a high proportion of pupils.

"I sincerely hope you will support the school so it can focus on teaching and learning, rather than dealing with consistent uniform infringements.”

Cornwallis Academy
Cornwallis Academy

But around 160 people including parents and Cornwallis pupils have joined a Facebook group - with many calling on the school to let children wear whatever makes them comfortable.

Amanda Cundall, is mum to Libby, 15. She said her daughter was was excluded for three days for wearing trousers deemed too tight.

Mrs Cundall, of Brenchley Road, Maidstone, claimed the uniform was uncomfortable, adding: “The girls are more than comfortable wearing skinny trousers. Why should this be affecting their education?

“Our children will be wearing these clothes when they go into work, why shouldn’t they be comfortable now?”

Stay-at-home dad Rio Huet removed his daughter Nerissa, 14 from school after she was placed in detention for the wrong trousers.

The Coombe Road resident said: “This is not affecting their education. If they don’t like it, I will take her out again. I am trying the best I can - if my children are comfortable in what they are wearing that is what they will wear.”

"I am trying the best I can - if my children are comfortable in what they are wearing that is what they will wear" - dad Rio Huet

Tracy Town from Loose, said her daughter Annie , 14 was put isolation for wearing the wrong shoes. She said as the owner two small businesses she felt uniform was very important, but the school should be focusing on improving educational standards rather than appearances.

The Leonard Gould Way resident added: “There should be a uniform in place but the argument is that the boys are not being singled out the way girls are."

However, not all parents agree. Liz Barker, from Cranbourne Avenue said she fully supports Cornwallis Academy's drive to improve appearances.

She said: "I feel disappointed a small number of parents and students, who do not appear to take pride in their appearance or their school, deflect well-deserved attention away from the amazing successes the young people and hard working staff achieve."

Nick Williams, CEO of Future Schools Trust, said: "At Cornwallis Academy, we have always been proud of our smart and well-presented students, which is why our new principal, Isabelle Linney-Drouet, made the uniform expectations one of her first priorities.

"To remind families of the correct dress code, a letter was sent home to parents two weeks before the start of half term. Mrs Linney-Drouet wanted to ensure parents had a sufficient amount of time to address any issues or concerns.

"Our uniform policy, which was designed in conjunction with the student council, has not changed for at least four years and it is important for us to work in partnership with parents, staff and students to ensure it is upheld."

Kent Police have confirmed they are investigating an allegation of assault at Cornwallis Academy on Monday after a woman put her hands on a member of staff.

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