Dozens of parents have complained to the Chronicle this week about Horizon Community College, with several claiming as many as 300 pupils have either been sent home or held in ‘isolation’ in the sports hall, mainly because either their shoes did not meet the school’s standards, or girls’ trousers were too tight.
The 2000-capacity school denies ‘hundreds’ were affected and says uniform standards have’t changed, but says there has been a ‘tightening up’ this week and that parents were warned in advance.
Mum of five Kirsty Lewis, of Bruce Avenue, Worsbrough Common, said: “They rang me and told me my daughter’s trousers were too tight, I could either take her another pair, or take her into town to buy some new ones. I just haven’t got the money.
“I even told them, I’ve got a voucher for a foodbank, do they think I can afford to go buying more trousers and shoes?”
Several parents told the Chronicle their daughters had been left feeling ‘fat’ after comments made at the school.
“My daughter has a larger build,” said one who asked not to be named. “I have to buy her adult clothes as it is. They’ve said her trousers are too tight at the knee.
“What they’re saying is I have to buy her trousers that are baggy on her and far too big so they won’t fit her around the waist. Just to stop boys looking at her? I think it’s disgusting.
“How’s that good for her body confidence? How’s that good for her education?”
Nina Hargreaves, of High Street, Dodworth, works in mental health and said she is concerned about the emotional impact the school’s stance is having on children.
“Horizon has always been a great school but I just think they’ve got this so wrong,” she said.
“There were kids in year seven, their first day in secondary school put in isolation because they’d got the wrong shoes on.
“It’s just putting even more anxieties in their heads. It’s an anxious enough time for them as it is.
“Their memories of their first day at school have been destroyed. We live in a society where children’s mental health problems are on the increase. We have public figures who are standing up and speaking out about this.
“But yet our schools are having the most detrimental impact on their emotional and psychological wellbeing.”
Many parents have complained that their children have been pulled up for wearing plain black leather shoes made by companies like Adidas or Nike. These are not allowed, however they have been allowed in previous years, and similar shoes made by the brand Converse are apparently acceptable. A text message sent to parents last Friday confirmed ‘all black leather Converse shoe is acceptable’.
“What’s the difference between a plain black leather Adidas and a plain black leather Converse?” asked Amy Oldham, of Dickinson Place, Worsbrough Common.
“I’ve got four kids and spent £300 on uniform this summer. I just can’t afford to go replacing it now because it’s the wrong brand.”
A Facebook group set up this week called Parents Against Horizon Uniform Policy has more than 350 members.
But one parent who contacted the Chronicle and asked not to be named backed the school, saying: “We’ve all received notification of the expected dress code, as well as a picture of what is and isn’t acceptable. I’m 100 per cent behind the school on enforcing this policy.
“Discipline begins in the home, whilst I’ve battled with my child with schoolwear I’ve made it crystal clear to him what is expected and what he will be wearing. My child went to school in the correct dress code and there was no issue. “
Executive principal Nick Bowen said other parents had been in touch in support of the school.
“Uniform is exactly the same as we introduced back in 2012: school trousers and black school shoes,” he said.
“Standards have slipped in the last couple of years so we have reinforced that trainers, leggings, skinny jeans are not allowed.
“We consistently and regularly communicated this with parents and students from March again making it clear that this was not a change to our original uniform, but a tightening up. The vast majority of parents understand this and have been extremely supportive as usual.
“Ninety five per cent of students conformed on Tuesday and there is a very small number still to conform. Any students not in the correct uniform can borrow, and in some cases have to keep, new school shoes and new school trousers.
“There is no need for any student to be out of lessons.
“So no hundreds were not pulled out of lessons. Some parents may well wish to get in touch with the Chronicle, but it is for the school to decide its uniform, which was done in consultation with students and parents back in 2011. We have simply enforced that uniform again giving parents several months’ notice.”