Parents are battling with one of the region’s best-known schools over its ‘U-turn’ on uniforms.
Tadcaster Grammar School, which has 1,500 pupils aged 11-18 – including many from the west York area – has introduced a new school uniform.
When it was first mooted in 2019 parents said they were told the uniform would only be compulsory for the year seven students.
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Years above that could choose which uniform they wanted to wear.
“At that point, we asked our children what they wanted,” Emma Blackstone, who has a son in Year 10, told David Dunning on the YorkMix Radio Late Show.
“Many of them said they wanted to stay in the old legacy uniform. And so the parents then went and purchased that uniform to secure that for the remainder of their child’s time.”
A year later “Tadcaster then informed us actually the uniform will be compulsory for all students, regardless of year group, from September 2021.
“So essentially they were removing the choice that they gave to their students back in 2019, and forcing parents to basically buy twice in terms of the school uniform.”
‘Disproportionate and unreasonable’
Parents of Year 10s who will be entering their last school year in September have now grouped together to protest at the move.
They point out that, with exams, the youngsters will only wear the new uniforms for two terms.
“When the school reiterated the policy a few weeks ago the parents came together and said, ‘Actually, this is wrong, this is not acceptable’.
“We’ve come together as a collective now, because we’ve realised that there’s a real strength of feeling behind the objection to this.
“Within the last sort of seven days, we’ve moved from a group of about ten parents to a group now of pushing on 120 parents who all have this very strong feeling, whose children all feel the same way.
“And we feel that Tadcaster needs to listen to the voice of their young people, they need to reflect and review on the policy which is disproportionate and unreasonable in the circumstances.”
A new uniform, including blazer, two shirts, jumper, Year 11 tie, and trousers or skirt costs nearly £90.
Emma said they put their objections in an email to the headteacher.
“And the response came back to us on Wednesday, that the head of the school doesn’t accept that our approach is reasonable. The school doesn’t accept that it’s a major issue for parents or indeed for the young people.”
They have now escalated the issue to the school board of governors. Parents have also launched a petition against the decision, and are campaigning on social media with the hashtag #HearMyVoice.
What the school says
Head teacher at Tadcaster Grammar School Andrew Parkinson said: “Since 2019, Tadcaster Grammar School has been transitioning to a revised uniform. This uniform was designed and developed in consultation with the Student Council and Student Equality & Diversity Group.
“From September 2021, students in years 7-11 will be proudly wearing the new school uniform which represents another marker of the high standards the school personifies.
“Parents and carers continue to be offered assistance with the purchase of the small number of uniform items, if required, as well as recycling and re-use considerations being made for both legacy and revised uniform items.
“The school has also amended uniform expectations to remove the requirement to purchase some logoed items in favour of generic options such as trousers, skirts and PE kit that are widely available at any retail outlet. This has further lowered the overall price of the school uniform.”
“We are exceptionally proud of our students who continue to exemplify the core school values of ‘Ambition, Resilience, Responsibility and Respect’ despite the challenges of the pandemic.”