Last year at the beginning of the first school term it became nationwide news when Hartsford High School in Kent had refused to let pupils enter school grounds because of their ‘inappropriate’ uniform which did not follow the school code of conduct.
While the head teacher of Hartsford had received positive feedback from local parents commenting that the code had set ‘high standards’ for school to be a highlight in the local community a small group of parents were out radged. Due to the teenagers being sent home from school parents brought it to the attention of the media that this had a catastrophic effect on their child’s education. The main issues came from a number of people who had ‘skin tight clothes on’, ‘inappropriate’ shoe wear and those who came without their blazers on. Many complained that those caught up in the situation were being prevented from missing the utmost vital education which could damage their studies, especially for those sitting exams. Since becoming local new this has become a conflicting topic of discussion.
Who is in the right?
In my perspective this could be argued from two points of view.
Firstly it is known that the way we dress allows us to express our different personalities. For some people wearing different shoes, clothes, hairstyles and accessories this can be a structure, which adds to their confidence, while they are at school. If this is true then why would it be acceptable to take this away from these young adults? On the other hand one of the main concerns coming from this story is money. In some cases the children’s parents were told to buy new uniform that was more appropriate but just because these things can be easily sourced in shops does that mean that everyone can afford them? Reading about child poverty this week has opened my eyes to the fact that a large majority of families struggle to make ends meet, if so then I don’t think it would be right to dismiss the fact that pupils might not have appropriate uniform because this is what is affordable for their family.
However on the other side of the fence I feel that having a set uniform for everyone in schools provides equality among pupils and their peers. If this code was not implemented it would isolate those from less fortunate backgrounds. All of a sudden school would become a competition of who has the best and most expensive outfit rather than what the real concern is. LEARNING.
As an aspiring professional I believe that the consistent attitude of the Head teacher and his staff has been positive in ensuring that standards will be kept in the school. By maintaining these standards will provide an education to pupils on what to expect in their future careers as the majority of professions have a set standard of how they expect their colleagues to dress. I see it from the perspective that, if you see a nurse on ward wearing a tracksuit or a police officer wearing jeans and a t-shirt while arresting someone, how would you react? How would that be different than wearing the correct uniform to school?
Sometimes building the small pieces of the puzzle first will help create a better idea of the picture. In this case I believe that this was the schools intentions and in the long term it will be worthwhile.
When we first arrived in the seminar we were told to disperse ourselves among the tables so that we would be equally divided into 5 groups. The task to complete in our groups was to create an item which students like us would be able to use on welcome week to help guide us throughout our first few weeks at university. As we all began to discuss the ideas of what we could make, our lecturer had passed out envelopes to each table which inside contained different materials. These materials were what we would eventually use in order to create our product. Looking around I had no idea why we would be doing this task in particular.
While we opened our envelopes we found a wide range of materials inside such as paperclips, sticky notes, coloured paper and pens. However looking around the room I found that each group had different amounts of resources most particularly one group who had 1 piece of paper, blue tack and a pen. When observing oneanothers envelopes we found it extremely strange that we hadn’t been given equal materials. All I could think at the time was “what is going on?”
As each group separately began to explain their ideas in front of the class I noticed that the first two groups had been given so much praise for their ‘astonishing’ and ‘absolutely brilliant’ ideas. This put pressure on our group because we had fewer materials than them and our student help box was being held together by some paper clips. As we began to present our design we received no praise. Not a ‘Well done that’s great’ or even an ‘I like the idea’. Derek did not seem impressed with our design at all. The feedback got worse until it came to the last group and finally it clicked what was going on when Derek made it obvious he wasn’t listen in and stood on his phone through the entire presentation.
This was a lesson on teaching attitudes and resource allocations throughout schools and it is a valuable one.
By praising some groups for their efforts and leaving others to ask what they had done wrong it highlighted what is probably happening in schools RIGHT NOW. As a whole class we agreed that by changing our attitudes towards different children is can diminish their confidence in the class. It showed that those who come from wealthier, nurtured and sheltered communities are much more likely to receive the praise for their progression than others. Those who have the support of their families can sometimes progress faster than others, for some children this can make the difference in there future careers and ambitions. As teachers we have the ability to create a class atmosphere were children understand; everyone can help each other to improve, we aren’t good at everything and no one should ever be put down by their social background.
Moving on to resource allocation I find it extremely important to highlight that every school has better or worse resources than each other but it is how we use those resources to enhance the same level of learning that matters. Just because you go to a school in a deprived area doesn’t mean that you should be treated any differently in what you can accomplish academically. After completing our Resource Allocation seminar I found myself thinking about how when we as teachers take on a class we are working with children who have completely different cognitions.