1. ITV Report

Parents' anger over school uniform punishments

A school in North Tyneside is facing criticism after dozens of pupils were excluded from lessons on the first day of the new term, for wearing 'inappropriate' items of clothing.

Some parents believe staff at George Stephenson High School in Killingworth over-reacted to 'minor infringements' of school uniform policy.

Elizabeth Jenkins. Credit: ITV News

Around 100 pupils were placed in 'time-out' for wearing the wrong type of shoes, trousers or skirts.

One of them was Elizabeth Jenkins, aged 14, who was told that she was wearing the wrong style of skirt.

She told ITV News Tyne Tees:

"I think the skirt looks fine. Some girls have shorter skirts and they still look perfectly smart. I just do not understand why it is such a big deal. Why should we all have to be wearing the exact same skirt and the exact same trousers? From my point of view I think that the skinny trousers look a lot smarter than the baggy ones."

Elizabeth's mother Julie Haley said:

"It is a plain black skirt which I think is totally acceptable for school. At no point was I contacted by the school, and I would like to have known what was happening to my daughter. Ultimately, I am responsible for Elizabeth's uniform. I do feel that if the school had any issues with it, it is me they should be coming to. They should not be punishing the kids."

George Stephenson High. Credit: ITV News

However, Ian Wilkinson, the Head Teacher at George Stephenson High School, has defended the decision to remove pupils from lessons.

“The school’s uniform policy is the same as it always has been, only this year we agreed to enforce the policy more consistently. Our uniform is an essential part of our identity. It helps to project the best possible image of the school, reinforcing good behaviour, and supporting higher educational attainment in the classroom.

“This approach was agreed with the full support of governors and it means that anyone coming to school in trainers, denim jackets, hoodies, and other non-uniform items of clothing, as well as skirts that are too short, or clothing that is too tight, will be temporarily taken out of lessons until the situation is resolved.

“We have been talking about this with students and their families since last May and the policy is explained in great detail on the school’s website. We were therefore really surprised and disappointed by the number of students not wearing the full correct uniform on the first day of our new term.

“We recognise this is not the ideal start, however, more than 1,000 students did attend wearing the correct uniform and there has been a significant improvement on the second day of term. We remain committed to enforcing the policy as stated and will continue talking to our students and their families.”

– Ian Wilkinson, Head Teacher, George Stephenson High School