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Uniformity? – Headmaster’s Blog – Ballard School

February 10, 2016


I have been struck by some of the headlines in the Press this past week: ‘pupil sent home for having too short a tie’; ‘girl excluded for failing to wear school shoes’; ‘school bar over skirt length’. As the reading public, I suppose we like a bizarre twist on the ordinary but it seems that matters are getting grossly out of hand and, moreover, I am confident there is a whole lot more behind these headlines!


Ballard School and uniform

All schools have rules and regulations of some kind, even the most liberal. The majority of UK schools do have uniform codes and clear expectations about what is acceptable in schools. It’s natural for young people to push boundaries and I have to say that I’d much rather have the battles over things such as shoe type, tucked in shirts and correctly worn ties than the much more challenging areas of relationships, social media and substance abuse. I say this because I believe that if we do show due care and attention, and sensitivity, to the seemingly ‘minor issues’ of uniform and appearance, we often don’t reach the bigger battles. That’s not because we ignore life skills and choices – quite the contrary as our PSHE programme alone will demonstrate – but it’s because we care enough about the mundane things in life partly to draw the ‘battle lines’ closer to the ordinary and also to show that when the more serious issues come along we are involved enough in young lives to truly care. Appearance and presentation are important and are worth ‘fighting over’.

Let’s talk about it

I can remember a discussion not so long ago with a pupil and parent over appearance issues, it was evident that we were actually on the same page. We all agreed that high standards were important and that both pupil and parent had ‘signed up’ to the expectations of our school. The matter for debate was over consistency and not content – as well as over wilfulness and reaction to correction – and I felt (eventually!) that my message had got through whilst, at the same time, giving me pause for thought and review. No school is perfect and I am always willing to listen and to respond to change appropriately. Dialogue is clearly vital and here at Ballard we have many avenues for this via such things as the School Council (the elected pupil body), the Prefects, one-to-one talks with staff and, of course, via the ever-open door of the Headmaster!

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

We tweet @BallardSchool and to read the Headmaster’s welcome on Ballard School’s website do click here:

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