Biggleswade mum says school has 'seen sense' over 'unfair' uniform policy during heatwave

The uniform policy now allows students to wear shorts

By Jo Robinson
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 2:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 2:43 pm

A Biggleswade mum claims that Stratton Upper School has 'seen sense' over its uniform policy after she campaigned for pupils to wear shorts as temperatures soared.

Gemma Marchant, 39, sent her son Owen Butler to school on Monday morning (July 11) in his PE kit due to the heat, but says she was shocked when staff asked the family to bring in his school uniform, including a jumper and tie.

After refusing, Gemma took Owen out of school and urged Stratton to change its "unfair" policy, as she believed that since skirts were a suitable option, shorts should be, too.

Owen in his full school uniform; what he can currently wear before the rules relax to black shorts on Monday and Tuesday; Owen in his PE kit. Image: Gemma Marchant.

However, Stratton Upper School has now relaxed its uniform policy, and students will be allowed to wear black shorts on Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19.

Gemma told the Chronicle: "Three of my children go to three different schools. Two, who go to Edward Peake Middle School and Biggleswade Academy, were told PE kits this week [July 11], as it’s going to be so hot.

"My 14-year-old's school - Stratton Upper - didn’t say anything.

"I sent him in PE kit, too, but I had a call within 15 minutes of him being at school to say I had to bring his full, proper uniform in - trousers, shirt, tie and thick knitted jumper!

"I refused and had to take him out of school. I then emailed with my concerns and asked for some work to be set, but they refused to set work and said it was an unauthorised absence."

Gemma claims that the school discussed the uniform policy and on Monday evening it announced that ties could be taken off.

She added: "They used to have summer polo shirts which they’ve now stopped."

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Her son returned to school on Tuesday but she claimed that if the policy was not relaxed next week, she would have been unhappy about sending him in.

She argued: "In today's world, I thought they would have been more inclusive - girls can wear skirts but boys can't wear shorts?

"I don’t understand how they think students can learn when they can’t concentrate in the heat, and it can cause people to faint."

Roz Hodges, Principal at Stratton Upper School, said: “We have made very reasonable uniform allowances for the hot weather we are currently experiencing. This includes not requiring our students to wear their school jumpers and ties.

“Our policy is to always try and resolve school uniform issues positively with parents in the first instance. If any parent decides not to allow their child to attend school then we will follow the school’s attendance policies.

“Overall, we are proud of the way our students have been conducting themselves sensibly in the heat this week, by protecting themselves from the sun and drinking plenty of water.”

The school confirmed that with the temperatures set for the mid 30s on Monday and Tuesday (July 18 and 19), the school will be allowing all students to wear black shorts for both these days, should they wish to.

However, Gemma claimed: "I’m happy that they will be relaxing the rules finally, but I think it was too late. It should be done from now until end of term, not for just two days."