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Pupils turned away from Hartsdown Academy in Margate again in uniform row


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Up to 20 children were again turned away from school this morning as a new head continued his zero-tolerance policy over uniforms.

It is the second day of the row at Hartsdown Academy in Margate, which made national headlines yesterday when police were called as up to 60 children were sent home.

New head Matthew Tate took the hard-line policy, having written to parents in July warning he would be clamping down on breaches.

New head teacher Matthew Tate
New head teacher Matthew Tate

Today he defended his decision to send dozens of pupils home for wearing the wrong school uniform.

Speaking to KentOnline, head teacher Matthew Tate, said he wouldn't back down on the rules and would carry on sending pupils home if they were wearing the wrong clothes.

This morning, pupils and parents gathered outside the academy in protest over the changes. The school's PCSO was also standing at the gate, but no trouble was reported.

Mr Tate, who has previously been credited with transforming under-performing schools in Medway and south-east London, wrote to parents in July warning he would be clamping down on breaches.

He said: "I'm standing up for the silent majority of children and parents who do it right, get it right every day and feel their education is being damaged by that small majority.

"I want to keep children safe and I want children to be happy here, but part of that is knowing that we have a set of rules and expectations and we keep to them."

Mr Tate added that a strict uniform policy enforces a positive attitude and encourages them to get on in class. He said it also reduces the risk of bullying and prepares teenagers for when they go on to work.

The policy has sparked fury from some parents, although 73% of people voting in our poll have backed the school.

Michelle Bailey’s daughter Megan Watson missed school for a second day.

Ms Bailey said: “Megan is wearing the same Flux trainers she wore last year and they were fine then.

“There was a meeting between students and the previous head teacher, Andy Somers, about them and it was agreed that they were acceptable footwear.

“My son Jordan was wearing the same style of footwear and he was allowed in.

“Megan usually has a lift to school with my partner Craig but his car broke down so she got the bus on her own for the first time on Tuesday.

Police intervened as parents protested at Hartsdown Academy in Margate
Police intervened as parents protested at Hartsdown Academy in Margate

“I had no call to say that she was being sent home on either day.

“The children are supposed to be in education. I understand what Mr Tate is trying to do but he’s going about this the wrong way. He’s trying to give the school a good name but he’s causing trouble.

Ms Bailey, of Appledore Close, Margate, will be accompanying Megan, 13, to the school gates tomorrow.

She said: “If she’s sent home again, I don’t know what else to do.

“Parents are fined if children are not in school, so will the school be authorising these absences?

“I have seven children and I can’t afford the fines.”

The strict guidelines include the need to wear formal black straight-legged trousers or skirt, a plain black V-necked pullover, and a black blazer is compulsory.

On the banned list are trainers, canvas shoes and sports logos, among other items.

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