Blackpool dad removes son from high school after row over shoes

A Blackpool dad is looking to find a new school for his son after claiming a row over uniform is making the teenager stressed.

Thursday, 10th October 2019, 10:36 pm
Wayne Pinder and his son Joshua

Wayne Pinder is angry that shoes his 13-year-old son Joshua wore to class at St George’s Secondary Academy in Marton last term are no longer acceptable there.

As well as the extra cost for approved footwear, Mr Pinder is concerned at what he claims is extra pressure being piled on Joshua as he builds towards his GCSEs.

He says the threat of detention until the row is resolved is causing his lad to go to school worried over that matter – rather than being able to fully concentrate on his school work.

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St George's

“It’s a distraction for him and we really don’t think it’s fair,” said Mr Pinder, 56, of Penrose Avenue, Marton.

“Joshua is a bright lad and has really enjoyed school over the years but these days, the rules and the strictness are such that he is going there worried that he might be punished in some way and it is affecting his work.

“The shoes situation has brought it to a head but is not just about that.

“It has just gone too far. There are so many regulations being introduced at St George’s that we really feel we need to look elsewhere to allow Joshua to get the best about of his ability.”

The unsuitable shoes

The row started when Joshua turned up for the new term last month in a black pair which Mr Pinder claims were acceptable last term.

“They were fairly new and still good to wear but when he arrived for the new term he was told they were not approved,” he said.

“After we had explained that a 40-odd pound outlay on a new pair would have to wait until pay day, the deputy head told Joshua he would be put into detention unless the matter was rectified as soon as possible.

“It left Joshua really worried and it shows what unfair pressure is being put on pupils when they should be concentrating solely on their schoolwork. I don’t think we are the only ones affected in this way.

“St George’s is handy for him to get to but I am determined to find him a new school, although the way the rules work it will be January before he can start elsewhere.”

Headteacher Graham Warnock said in a statement: “St George’s is well known for its high expectations and high standards having recently achieved ‘good’ in all areas in this years Ofsted inspection, and record breaking GCSE results 2019 for the Academy and the best in Blackpool.

“We are on an incredible journey in which we continually raise the bar across every aspect of what we do, including consistent standards of presentation.

“Last academic year, the academy communicated to all parents about changes to footwear which were in essence a move from designer branded trainer style footwear to a good solid school shoe.

“At St George’s, the expectation is that pupils should comply with our uniform. We hold children to account if they do not.

“Parents support this. They want their children to learn, be successful and develop respect for people and authority.

“It was pleasing to see the vast majority of pupils coming to school in correct uniform. A very small number of pupils had the incorrect footwear.

“Each of these have been looked at on an individual level and exceptions made for valid reasons such as medical conditions.

“The Academy also has a selection of new shoes which it has offered to any family suffering financial hardship.

“Unfortunately a very small minority of parents disagree with the uniform policy and feel their child should be allowed to wear what they want, when they want.

“In these instances, the Academy uses appropriate sanctions which can include detentions until the issue is resolved.

“What is clear is, no child has been removed from lessons or isolated.

“It’s not about how strict our uniform policy is - it’s about the consistency in enforcement. We need rules that can be implemented consistently by all staff and our uniform policy is part of this.

“At St George’s, children are thriving in our consistent environments, as it makes them feel safe and looked after and one of the reasons the young people of St George’s have left with record breaking results this year.

“I believe it is our duty as teachers to give children as much consistency as we can and the reason why we will always have consistent expectations around uniform, behaviour and teaching.

“The purpose of a uniform is to unite the school. In the same way that the Blackpool football team all wear the same uniform, it’s because they’re a team: they have the same goals.

“A uniform makes us stronger and gives us all a sense of purpose, which will enable our children to be more resilient and more determined later in life.

“The reward and validation of this approach is not only reflected in our fantastic performance but also by Ofsted who earlier this year rated the Academy ‘good’ across all areas.

Uniform guide

On its website, St George’s features a full uniform guide, featuring what is acceptable and what is not, and headed off with:

“At St George’s School we have very high standards regarding uniform. There are many good reasons for wearing uniform:

It encourages a feeling of belonging and pride in the school and in appearance.It minimises differences in material backgroundIt is by far the most sensible, smart and economical way to dress during school time.

Along with separate sections featuring images boys’ shoes, girls’ shoes and school bags, it features a letter to parents highlighting what is acceptable in all aspects of uniform and under the ‘shoes’ section of that, it says: ‘All black leather shoes ONLY without any designer branding which are a suitable and practical for school. BOOTS/TRAINERS ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.

'Heels should be low, platforms and shoes with white trims/laces/tops (Timberland style) are all unacceptable. Black “pumps” and trainers are also inappropriate for daily wear and ballet shoes as they quickly become unsafe which will result in pupils not being permitted to wear them.'

Under the ‘boys’ shoes’ section, along with pictures of unacceptable shoes, there are images of those which are acceptable, detailed as ‘Leather type material (not canvas); plain black, with no logo/ bubble type sole or trainers style.