1. ITV Report

Uniform row pupils told 'you won't be welcome in school'

More than 900 pupils attend Penyrheol Comprehensive in Swansea. Credit: ITV News

A secondary school in Swansea has denied parents and pupils claims that '70-odd children' were 'kept in a hall all day' because they didn't have the school badge on their trousers.

Penyrheol Comprehensive in Swansea confirmed that pupils were spoken to about their uniforms.

Parents claim their children were isolated from lessons all day including some pupils who were experiencing their first day in secondary school.

A recording has emerged which appears to be of pupils at a Swansea school being told they 'won't be welcome' unless they wear trousers displaying a special logo.

The audio clip has been widely shared on social media in connection with Penyrheol Comprehensive where up to 70 pupils were claimed by some parents to have been kept in a hall all day because they weren't wearing the correct uniform .

A uniform change at the Gorseinon school has meant pupils are now required to wear trousers and skirts which have the school logo on.

Pupils without the correct uniform were gathered for a meeting to remind them of the school's dress code, with some parents claiming that around 70 pupils were 'kept in a hall all day', although the school said pupils were asked to meet, solely so staff could check if they had uniforms on order.

ITV News received a recording circulated in connection with the situation at Penyrheol in which, parents say, a man can be heard apparently telling schoolchildren they 'won't be welcome' at the school unless they are in the correct uniform.

Some of you though haven't got trousers ordered.

So you should be in school uniform, you're not in school uniform today.

You won’t be welcome in Penyrheol Comprehensive School unless you’re in our school uniform which went through a full review last year and, you know, we’ve had a lot of information out there about it so there’s really no excuse for that.

You'll be remaining here with me.

– Recording

In a second clip, the man on the recording goes on to say there are others who haven’t ordered the uniform yet.

But there are others of you who haven’t ordered yet so you don’t have our uniform.

Now let's be clear about this, you won't be coming to Penyrheol Comprehensive School, you won't be going into lessons without our school uniform.

If you want to sit here with me, as some of you'll be doing today, for the rest of term so be it that's fine but you won't be going into lessons so if you're coming to school to learn you need to be in the Pen[yrheol uniform]."

– Recording
Michelle Phillips says she is 'appalled' her son was 'excluded'. Credit: ITV News

ITV News spoke to pupil, Tyrhys Varcianna, and his mother, Michelle Phillips. They explained that they ordered the school trousers and they were too big, so Tyrhys went in shorts with the logo. Tyrhys claims he was kept in the 'theatre room' for three hours and later sent home.

Tyrhys Varcianna wore shorts to school with the logo. Credit: ITV News

I just feel really annoyed.

I came into school, I wanted to learn because this year is going to be an important year for GCSES, my options.

It feels like I have been denied that.

– Tyrhys Varcianna, pupil

I was absolutely disgusted by it because I feel like the education should come first, before what we wear.

My son, throughout the years he's been in Penyrheol, has had good exam marks and things like that.

His work is really good and then just because of a little bit of uniform issue he was excluded for a few days.

I just felt appalled by it.

– Michelle Phillips, Tyrhys' mother

Another mum of two pupils at the school has said she thinks parents should be allowed to buy their own skirts and trousers for their children and have the badge put on them instead.

Aimee Phillips says that parents should be allowed to buy other trousers and then have the school logo added.

Children come in all shapes and sizes and they don't fit the children at all.

"The majority of them have been isolated as they haven't got the correct uniform. It's not allowing them an education.

I think they should scrap the whole new uniform. If a child is wearing leggings then the parents should be called in but I don't see why they need another uniform.

We should be able to get normal trousers and put the logo on.

– Aimee Phillips, mother

An online petition has now been launched in a bid to change the uniform policy at the school and has already received more than 2,500 signatures.

Children at this school were put into the theatre at the school, missing out on valuable education on their first day back and some their first ever day at the school, some even sent home, due to not having the correct trousers or skirts on with a new logo which is the size of a 5p coin.

The school logo is on the polo t-shirt and also on the jumpers.

This is just a money spinner that most people just cannot afford.

Plain black trousers or plain black skirts should be sufficient... we don't see the teachers in uniform!

Please help to get our children back into their classrooms and learning that is what they are there for.

– Online petition

Last Thursday a spokesman for Penyrheol Comprehensive School explained how a change had been made to the school uniform so pupils wore trousers or skirts that carried the Penyrheol logo 'to ensure that they meet the standards of dress required'.

We did this after extensive discussions with pupils and after a survey of parents.

To help parents we put details in an email in June and also in a text message and on our website.

The vast majority of pupils turned up for school on the first day in the correct uniform and we would thank their parents for their cooperation.

Following their induction lessons, those pupils not wearing the correct uniform were asked to meet so we could establish if they had uniforms on order.

We are talking with a handful of parents who have yet to order the correct uniform and we are highlighting the financial assistance that’s available for some families.

– Penyrheol Comprehensive School spokesperson

After being made aware of the audio clip, Penyrheol issued a further statement last Friday.

Following Tuesday's meeting just a handful of pupils are not wearing the correct uniform and don't yet have them on order.

We are continuing to talk with their parents.

– Penyrheol Comprehensive School spokesperson

Penyrheol Comprehensive has more than 900 pupils attending the school.

In a Facebook post, Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart said the school's stance was 'unacceptable'.

I have just heard the audio of an individual telling school children in Penyrheol Comprehensive that they will not be welcome at the school because they do not have a correct logo on their uniform.

I have to say I’m concerned and more than a little angry.

The right to education is far more important than a logo. Children are and will be welcome in our schools. I do not think it is acceptable to treat pupils in this way.

While I’m sure the policy was introduced for the right reasons, I would urge the headteacher and the school to rethink the application of this policy immediately.

If the council had powers to intervene on this issue I would already have asked officers to do so, but uniform policy is a matter for the school and the governing body.

I have however asked my officers to review whether such policies are legal, fair and appropriate, in terms of the authorities policies on promoting equality and tackling poverty.

I know many parents and families will be struggling to make ends meet and some cannot afford to purchase ‘specific branded school items’, especially when they can get virtually the same item at a fraction of the cost from another supplier.

I hope the school hear this message and act quickly.

– Swansea Council Leader Rob Stewart, Facebook post

School uniform policy is a matter for governing bodies and headteachers.

As announced last week, we will soon be consulting on new and strengthened statutory school uniform guidance with a focus on affordability.

This is a chance for schools, parents and pupils to have their say on how we move forward.

– Welsh Government spokesperson