Can a primary school enforce uniform rules ? New head making his mark I think

(37 Posts)
PenisColada Fri 18-Jan-13 13:38:55

My ds is 5 and has allergies and lifelong eczema.

A new head teacher has started this term and is now insisting all shirts are tucked into trousers / skirts. They wear polo shirts.

My ds came home crying as it really irritates his skin. He wears very lose clothing and cannot tolerate anything remotely tight even waistbands / cuffs etc.

Am I right in thinking primary schools cannot legally enforce uniforms or did I imagine that ?

I intend to ring the school next week and request an exception is made due to my ds skin condition. Do you think that will be taken into account ?

I wish new heads would not come in and make changes for no good reasons.

WowOoo Fri 18-Jan-13 14:10:39

It's not for no good reason - it's so everyone looks smart.

I'm sure they'll be understanding if you explain your son's condition. Poor thing if it made him cry. I'd tell them just how upset he was.

I don't know about legalities, sorry.

Our new head did this also. Loads of new rules, but most of them good.

trinity0097 Fri 18-Jan-13 14:11:17

You child needs to get used to this, as in a secondary school this would be the norm. However, speaking as a teacher, if the shirt is untucked under a jumper and I can't see it sticking out then it's no problem.

I would still speak to the school though, but can't imagine his friends being pleased he has got away with breaking a simple school rule if he is allowed to ignore it!

Battlefront Fri 18-Jan-13 14:32:54

Maybe his trousers need to be slightly looser to accommodate the tucked in shirt? Presumably the waistband of his trousers generally makes contact with his waist or they'd fall down? A cotton polo shirt is surely less likely to cause irritation than the trousers next to his skin?

What form does the irritation take? Is there anything to see? (sore patches, rash etc?) If his skin is really irritated that badly, then with the support of your doctor the school will waive the policy for him. Obviously I don't know what his skin complaint is or how it affects him, but maybe he needs some time to get used to it feeling different.

I do take exception to the "no good reason" though. I work in a school where a new head started enforcing uniform and tucked in shirts about 2 years ago. The change in the children's overall behaviour and sense of pride is amazing. Their general discipline has improved immeasurably, which has a direct effect on their learning, they look better when representing the school in the community and they know how you "should" dress in situations where you are required to be smart. IMO too many people have no idea how to dress appropriately for the situation - In a previous job I often discounted an interview candidate because his shirt wasn't tucked in!! It's all part of their education and it is important.

ThePathanKhansWitch Fri 18-Jan-13 14:33:24

Obviously having a shirt tucked in, even though it causes your ds pain, is an educational imperative, how will your son get a good edumacation if his shirts out??

Comforts no good for children, I tell you, mine wears a hair shirt, she's a hugely intelligent because of it.<not>
I,d explain, then send your child in so he is confortable.
Ffs, i'm against uniforms, but I can see why some detest them.

ThePathanKhansWitch Fri 18-Jan-13 14:34:39

Not against.^

Battlefront Fri 18-Jan-13 14:41:16

Witch, OP hasn't told the school that this causes an issue for her son yet. When she does I'm sure she'll find they want a solution.

For most children tucking in a polo shirt wouldn't make them uncomfortable in any way shape of form, but it does (IME) make a big difference to discipline, which yes, does directly affect the quality of the education they receive.

expansivegirth Fri 18-Jan-13 14:52:23

They may be able to enforce rules. But there have to be exceptions. Talk to the head. And if the head is intransigent, get a doctors letter. And if the head is still intransigent, and won't work to find a solution (ie looser clothers), take it to the LEA. But I'd be amazed if the head was actually arsey about it. The rule is meant to be in the best interests of children; it shouldn't be enforced if it isn't.

trofeewife Fri 18-Jan-13 14:55:24

A polo shirt doesn't looked scruffy if it isn't tucked in. Very petty.
Can you get a note from your GP op? I would do that before talking to the Head.

trofeewife Fri 18-Jan-13 14:56:06

X post with expansive girth

meditrina Fri 18-Jan-13 15:01:58

Yes, uniform can be enforced at primary level.

Yes, it is a good idea to go in to find a mutually acceptable work-around. If the tucking in has actually precipitated the eczema it would be worth photographing it so the school can clearly see why you need an adaptation on medical grounds.

How did you manage so far if he cannot do waistbands?

PenisColada Fri 18-Jan-13 15:13:08

His waistbands are loose and sort of sit on his hips. He cannot tolerate them fitting tightly at all and spends a lot of time pulling them up but he is happy with this.

It is not a washing powder thing and I just really think his skin is sensitive as we have to take out all labels and itchy seams can be a problem too. We keep on top of the eczema with very proactive treatment as soon as a patch appears ( a nasty infected bout last year was hideous and taught us to get on top of it as soon as it is visible) so here is not always very visible signs on his skin.

Winter is much worse too as he is dust mite allergic and any cold / bug also leads to a flare up. Summer months are blissful and much better for his skin.

I think I will ring the school and ask to speak to the head and gauge the reaction. I am sure a GP note will not be a problem as he has repeat prescriptions for creams and bath stuff every month.

Thanks for the replies love the polarised views on uniforms ! My older dc have to tuck shirts in but they are proper shirt and tie shirts would never think to tuck in polo shorts before this.

lljkk Fri 18-Jan-13 15:19:09

Exceptions to rules are made all the time, OP, make your case calmly & convincingly, get a note from GP perhaps to help fortify your nerves, if you can find room for compromise then do.

Startail Fri 18-Jan-13 15:25:38

hem poloshirt so it doesn't show out bottom of jumper.
No one will notice.

Rule will go out the window soon enough, primary DCs don't do tucking in.

teacherwith2kids Fri 18-Jan-13 15:28:07

What does he normally wear over the polo shirt?

Would one option be to shorted his polo shirts, so that once he puts a sweatshirt over them there is no untucked 'frill' of polo short round the bottom? As a previous poster said, I wouldn't make someone tuck in their polo shirt if it had a sweatshirt / jumper on neatly over it and I couldn't see any polo shirt polking out around the bottom...but I would if I could see the aforementioned 'frill'.

RaisinBoys Fri 18-Jan-13 15:39:17

Have a chat to the school - I hope they'll be understanding. Poor little mite.

Incidentally, my son is in Y5 and has never tucked his polo shirt in. Ever. We get a larger sized sweatshirt so that it is comfortable and falls below the bottom of said polo shirt.

He is a great student. He has pride in his school. He looks smart.

Uniform IS enforceable in Primary School - they just can't send children home for not wearing it though as you can in Secondary.

PenisColada Fri 18-Jan-13 15:43:47

His polo shirt is fairly long to compensate for low slung trousers as mentioned above ! The sweatshirt is a bit more snug but as it is not in direct contact with skin does not seem to be a problem

prh47bridge Fri 18-Jan-13 17:55:37

Just to deal with the legalities, it seems there is a widespread belief that uniform cannot legally be enforced in primary schools. I'm afraid it is a myth. A primary school is legally entitled to enforce its uniform.

admission Fri 18-Jan-13 22:33:08

It is for the governing body of a school to decide whether there should be a school uniform and other rules relating to appearance, and if so what they should be. This flows from the duties placed upon the governing body by statute to conduct the school (1) and to ensure that school policies promote good behaviour and discipline amongst the pupil body.(2)

However there is also a clear mandate around disability discrimination, which is now the equalities legislation, to allow for variations in the uniform where it might be a problem. In some of the DfE information it does talk about the need for some to have a different material because they are allergic to the type of fabric used in for instance shirts.

Your need to talk to the head teacher but if they prove to be unmovable then a formal complaint to the head teacher, mentioning the Equalities Act may make the school change their mind, along with a doctor's note confirm the skin condition.

1. Section 21 of the Education Act 2002, as amended by the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
2. Section 88 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006..

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 18-Jan-13 22:33:21

A primary school is legally entitled to enforce its uniform, but does that include specifying exactly how the uniform is worn ie shirt tucked in or out?

FWIW, my children don't wear the official school polos shirts or sweatshirts because they're made of synthetic materials that aggravate their eczema. My dd in particular cannot stand anything too close to her skin, I know exactly what you mean OP and I would be very happy to explain this at length to the school should the issue arise.

Startail Fri 18-Jan-13 23:51:14

Seriously small DCs will not keep their tops tucked in, the HT is living on that cloud that only HT live on.

The same one that seems not to notice that every time you complain the girls skirts are a bit short, they shrink a bit more.

prh47bridge Sat 19-Jan-13 00:24:57

yellowsubmarine53 - Yes, they can specify that. Indeed, they can specify pretty much anything they want within reason. Under the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 s61 the head has broad powers to make and enforce rules "regulating the conduct of pupils" provided they act in accordance with the principles laid down by the governors.

EvaLongoria Sat 19-Jan-13 08:30:45

Ok I don't know about the legalities of it all. But where I grew up it was all the norm to have out shirts tucked in or even to wear tie boys or girls. Sometimes I feel parents here complain about the UK being a nanny state but they complain about silly things like this all the time

Is it possible that you can let your son wear a soft cotton vest on under his shirt.

yellowsubmarine53 Sat 19-Jan-13 09:42:40

I suppose the issue for OP (and me hypothetically) is that it isn't reasonable to insist a shirt is tucked in if it exacerbates a medical condition and/or causes the child distress.

That's interesting to know about disability and equalities discrimination, though, should the issue arise.

Sorry, eva, but come to my house when my dd is being persuaded to wear something even slightly uncomfortable to her (think socks with seams on the inside) and then tell me her level of distress is 'silly'.

havingastress Sat 19-Jan-13 09:47:27

Of course the Head can do this.

Why don't you put your son in a vest under his uniform? Surely this would stop the uniform irritating/scratching his skin? (speaking as someone with eczema yes, I do know how it feels)

I think you should work out how to make this work, rather than just say you can't do it!

Hulababy Sat 19-Jan-13 09:53:16

Legally I don't think state primaries can enforce a uniform as such, though it can be strongly recommended and advised. They must make sure the uniform is widely available and affordable too I believe. It;s more of a dress code I guess.

Your DS may not be happy being the only child not in uniform - this is something to bear in mind. However if you speak to the school about your DS's medical issues then I am sure a compromise must be possible.

Hulababy Sat 19-Jan-13 09:54:15

You may be better going and speaking to the head teacher in person, rather than a phone call.

Hulababy Sat 19-Jan-13 09:59:14

When I say cannot legally enforce - think this is due to disabilities, discrimination, etc. I am sure medical conditions would come in this group.

meditrina Sat 19-Jan-13 10:06:10

Hulababy: see posts from admission and prh47bridge above, which not only show it is legal to enforce uniform in primary, but also cite the law which makes it so.

The remaining question for OP is how to show the school that they need also consider DDA/EA, and what reasonable adjustments can be made on medical grounds.

(OP: thanks for response on waistbands: I'd been imagining something vast held up by braces!)

TheFallenNinja Sat 19-Jan-13 10:43:13

It's called uniform so they're all the same, kids however will always try to personalise their gear, nature of the beast I suppose.

NellysKnickers Sat 19-Jan-13 11:41:15

Have a chat with the school, I'm sure together you will cone up with a solution. DS1 suffers from a number of severe allergies and eczema, so I totally get where you are coming from but tour ds won't want to be different from his classmates.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Sat 19-Jan-13 11:47:45

If you get the sweatshirt in a larger size (and perhaps trim and hem the cuffs up, which might be more comfortable for him anyway) then the polo shirt should be invisible. But in the meantime speak to the head - no reason to expect he'll be unreasonable.

trofeewife Sat 19-Jan-13 11:53:35

It's a polo top - not a shirt. OP isn't suggesting that she doesn't wear the uniform - just that her child will find it extremely uncomfortable to wear the polo top tucked in.

They will untuck themselves anyway as soon as the children move, polo tops are waist length unlike shirts.

teacherwith2kids Sat 19-Jan-13 12:23:15

Just coming back to this briefly - I think that it's another of those 'it isn't what you say, it will be the way that you say it' [as my mum always used to say to me, when I protested 'but I only SAID...'] situations.

I am sure that if you approach the head with a 'I understand that you want to smarten up the uniform, but DS has eczema so we need to work together to find a reasonable adjustment. Either he can wear a soft vest underneath or I can hem up the polo shirt so that it won't show under a sweatshirt (though he won't be able to tuck it in the summer when he's not wearing a sweatshirt) or he can leave it untucked [or any other options that you can think of e.g. a different brand of polo shirt that you know has less scratchy material etc etc] - what would be the most acceptable to you?' then he / she will be very reasonable in return.

If, on the other hand, you approach the head with 'You have a new rule on shirts being tucked in, but DS won't be doing that because he has eczema. You can't make him because of the DDA / EA' then the response you get might be less positive ... not because the message is any different, but simply because of the way it is put IYSWIM?

Partricularly as the head is new, you don't know how reasonable / unreasonable / flexible / inflexible they are in general, and approaching them in the way that makes it easiest for them to be flexible (esapecially if you demonstrate that you are also willing to be flexible by coming up with possible solutions) is most likely to bring out their reasonable side!

[Am sure that I am teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, btw!]

Idreamofafullnightssleep Sat 19-Jan-13 12:26:21

This is from our LA admissions booklet . It would be worth looking at yours for additional imformation;

'Children are expected to dress neatly for school. Primary-age
children do not need to wear a school uniform, but many
schools ask children to wear a type or colour of clothing that is
associated with the school. However, as the Local Authority
does not ask for this, the Council does not provide a grant towards buying school clothing'

Idreamofafullnightssleep Sat 19-Jan-13 12:27:09

'information' of course not imformation!

PenisColada Sat 19-Jan-13 12:43:34

Some very helpful responses thank you.

I will see how it goes and to recap it is the issue of tucking in a polo shirt that is the problem not the actual uniform itself.

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