Posted: Wed 28th Jun 2023

Criticism of secondary school shorts ban branded ‘deeply unprofessional’ /
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jun 28th, 2023

Criticism of a secondary school’s ban on shorts – which has seen some boys take to wearing skirts during the current hot weather – has been slammed as “deeply unprofessional”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Caldicot Comprehensive was publicly admonished by two members of Monmouthshire County Council ruling Labour/Green Party cabinet over its uniform stance, while council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby signed a petition calling on the school to reconsider its uniform policy. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

But that enraged former council leader Councillor Richard John who, when the Conservatives ran the council, had also been the cabinet member for education. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Tory group leader made his criticism when the full council considered a report on its education deapartment and how it supports schools. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said he was pleased Labour councillors had “supported leadership in our schools” but then hit out at the cabinet members who had spoken, or registered concern, at the shorts ban. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said: “Only in the past week or so we’ve heard the unprofessional interventions of several cabinet members engaging in megaphone diplomacy criticising one of our secondary schools and dragging the reputation of a well-led school through the mud. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“I hope an apology will be forthcoming because the administration literally run this local authority. Criticising a school in the press and signing a petition, calling on a school to pursue a particular course of action is deeply unprofessional.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By Friday, June 23, nearly 900 people has signed the petition on the website, which has called for the school to reconsider its uniform policy and highlighted wearing “more suitable” and comfortable clothing in the hot weather can combat “lethargy, frustration, tiredness and lack of concentration”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It also said shorts would help reduce risk of “sunstroke and overheating”, and  that the human rights of boys at the school were being “sabotaged”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Caldicot county councillor Rachel Garrick, whose two sons are both pupils at the comprehensive, criticised the school’s approach to the issue when speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service and other media earlier this week. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The Labour councillor, who is the cabinet member for finance, had also confirmed that council leader Brocklesby had told her she had signed the petition while the cabinet’s Green Party councillor, Ian Chandler, commented on Twitter that “well-being to support learning is more important than uniform conformity”. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service Cllr Garrick had also said she was concerned the school’s uniform policy is at odds with the Welsh Government’s official guidance on making adaptations for hot weather, while other aspects such as the requirement pupils wear blazers, also doesn’t comply with the policy. She also highlighted the school’s responsibility to listen to its students through its school council. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The petition also claimed pupils had been placed in isolation for wearing shorts, but this was denied by head teacher Steven Grech. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

He said any changes to the uniform policy would have to be considered by school governors but said the school has allowed pupils to remove blazers and jumpers while it could consider allowing pupils to wear PE shorts, rather than trousers or skirts, as it has in previous years if the temperature increases. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

By BBC LDRS ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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