Uniform policies take a roasting in heatwave
Postmen are wearing their shorts to work and office staff have abandoned their ties.
However, while most of us are enjoying the sunshine in our summer clothes, schoolchildren are being asked to stick to the rules when it comes to their uniforms.
Where does the law stand when it comes to uniforms and what can parents do if they disagree with school rules? Hannah Parsons, Principal Associate Solicitor at DAS Law shares some useful advice:
Do children have to abide by the school uniform?
A school is entitled to have rules requiring pupils to wear a uniform.
Many schools will have a home school agreement, which is entered into on joining the school, where parents and pupils agree to comply with the school’s behaviour and appearance policy.
The school can discipline pupils for not complying with the school uniform rules although they are expected to consider a reasonable request to vary the uniform policy and must take care to ensure that any policy does not lead to discrimination, particularly on grounds of gender, race, disability, religion or sexual orientation.
The Department of Education guidance strongly encourages schools to have a uniform and in its guidance it recommends governing bodies should take into account the views of parents and pupils as well as costs when making decisions.
Can the school really send children home for not sticking to strict uniform rules?
Each maintained school has a behaviour and discipline policy.
The policy will provide for pupils to be disciplined if they breach the school’s uniform and appearance rules.
Any punishment should be in line with the published behaviour policy.
Guidance states that where there is a breach of the school uniform policy either a headteacher or someone authorised by the head can ask a pupil to go home to remedy the uniform breach.
The school is expected to consider carefully whether this would be appropriate taking into account the child’s age, vulnerability, the ease and time it will take the pupil and also the availability of the child’s parents.
Where a uniform policy is in place, schools are expected to consider reasonable requests to vary the policy, particularly when the request is made to meet the needs of individual pupils to accommodate their religion or belief, ethnicity, disability or other special consideration.
When it comes to school uniform, pupils at most, if not all, Blackpool and the Fylde schools have pretty strict rules to obey.
After all, they are representatives of the school.
Primary schools usually have separate uniforms for summer but that’s not usually the case at secondary level.
However, over the last few weeks high school students have been allowed to ditch their blazers and ties, usually worn at all times - to help cool down in the classroom.
One school has even encouraged pupils to wear full PE kit to keep cool.
At Carr Hill High in Kirkham students have been given the choice of wearing their PE kits in place of their usual uniform since early July.
All other uniform rules still apply.
A spokesman said: “Due to high temperatures, staff at Carr Hill High School and Sixth Form Centre have taken steps to ensure our students stay cool in the heat.
At St Aidan’s CE High in Preesall pupils are well catered for in the summer.
They have a separate uniform which includes polo shirts - with full school crest.
Keeping cool is uniform
Most, if not all schools, are usually more than willing to relax uniform rules during extreme hot weather conditions. However, this does vary.
Whenever a school uniform policy is in place, a school is expected to consider reasonable requests to vary the policy and in particular when the request is made to meet the needs of individual pupils to accommodate their religion or belief, ethnicity, disability or other special consideration.
Governing bodies must have a complaints procedure to deal with school uniform issues and should consider reasonable requests for flexibility to accommodate social and cultural circumstances.
Disputes should be resolved locally and in accordance with the school’s complaints policy.