Plans for new school uniform are met with a mixed response from parents

Longsands Academy

Longsands Academy - Credit: Archant

Plans to introduce a new uniform at Longsands Academy, in St Neots, have been met with a mixed response but the school’s headteacher has offered assurances to parents who have raised concerns.

Letters, outlining the results of a review launched last September, were sent to parents last Friday, but within hours, a petition, which has since been signed by more than 600 people, was launched through social media.

The review, in line with Department for Education guidelines, was carried out with input from the governing body, staff and students and then examples, styles and costs were put before the St Neots Learning Partnership board.

“For a number of years, informal feedback from a number of parents, students and staff has described our current uniform as scruffy and not providing students with the sense of pride in the academy they represent, said headteacher Martin Paine in a statement issued to The Hunts Post.

He added: “During the autumn term, discussions were held with the governing body, senior staff and our suppliers to investigate the options available. The trust board considered samples of uniform including various options for blazers/jackets, ties and skirts. Furthermore, costings for varying options and comparisons to existing uniform costs were also considered along with suppliers, compulsory items and options for parents to source items from high street retailers. The board suggested the introduction of a new uniform could start from September 2018 with Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 compulsory and non-compulsory for Year 11 (current year 10). The trust board will be taking all points into consideration along with feedback from parents and carers before any final decision is made and communicated.”

Parents were invited to consider the options and offer feedback, but many, instead, took to social media to criticise the school’s process and the time frame for introduction.

The petition reads: “Although we want our children to look smart and conform to uniform rules, we feel as though the deadline for introduction of the new uniform (September 2018) is an unreasonable expectation and we require a longer phasing in period before the existing uniform becomes obsolete.

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“We ask that the board reconsider their decision to enforce the new uniform by September 2018 and allow a phased in period (at least one full academic year, if not longer) where both the old and the new uniforms are considered acceptable attire.”

Mr Paine said he was happy to hear from parents who had concerns and all feedback would be considered before a final decision was made.

“Response to the letter has been both highly positive as well as providing some very helpful feedback which has been gratefully received; we are aware of the petition requesting a phased introduction of the new uniform. Alongside the governing body, we fully intend to work closely with all parents.”