Written by Anna Macgowan

In The News

A uniform response

As kids went back to school, so began the drama at the gates about dress codes. Is it, asks Anna Macgowan, just a lesson in hysteria?

pupil by school fence
Stop everything. Put down that coffee. Walk out of that meeting. Abandon that buggy. A massively disturbing event is taking place… Right now, at this very moment, a school in Kent is IMPOSING RULES ON ITS PUPILS.

A headteacher, whose only qualifications are a first-class BA degree, a PGCE in Secondary Education, an NPQH in School Leadership and a National Professional Qualification of Headship, and whose only experience is as a head of department, a deputy head, an assistant head and then a headteacher for the last four years, is somehow of the belief that HE knows how to run a school. Lunatic!

Thankfully, a really well-behaved, measured group of parents have spent the last few days informing him via social media and the national press, that THEY are the ones who know how to run a successful school and letting their kids wear £100 Nike Air Max 95 trainers is the first step.

They have perfectly accurately compared the headteacher’s methods to those of the Nazi secret police and, in so doing, entirely inoffensively imply that he is basically Himmler, which is bang-on actually because that Nazi general was totally messed-up about footwear.

Have you seen a pic of this neo-Nazi headteacher, Matthew Tate? He looks like an RE teacher (because he is) and on the radio he sounds like an RE teacher (because he is). But these parents aren’t fooled by that lovely outward demeanour. They know he is personally out to destroy their children’s education.

Some kids became ‘hysterical’ at the school gates when they were refused entry due to wearing a tracksuit instead of school uniform. HYSTERICAL. One young girl was so distressed at being told what to wear, her equally distressed mother says she may have to home-school her from now on as neither can bear the prospect of her daughter wearing the correct shoes.

“Hating school uniform and dicking about with it is what kids are supposed to do. Deciding which rules to enforce are what schools are supposed to do.”

When I was at school the deputy head, a permanently furious, inhuman character, would spend the first 10 minutes of the school day sneaking up behind us in the playground and violently wrenching any non-regulation scarves from around our necks, confiscating them indefinitely. When snoods became the thing, her wrenching technique carried the added bonus of dragging us to the floor in a scene of public strangulation.

Did it stop us wearing non-regulation scarves? Of course not – uniform ones were bottle green and white stripes, for chrissake. Did it cause our parents to march in to school and demand we be allowed to wear that pink neon scarf because it was our human right not to be chilly and anyway it cost them £20? God no. We’d have been mortified. No matter how liberal our parents were (and mine were exceptionally so) they were still adults and therefore AGAINST us and out to RUIN OUR LIVES.

Once when I came home with a really nasty deputy head-induced neck burn, my beloved black snood with gold speckles stolen from my life forever, Dad told me I was an arsehole and to either wear the uniform or freeze and no, he wouldn’t be buying me a new snood.

Anna's school photoIn the picture, it’s 1989. Look at that sloppy collar. No M&S starch for me, I’d have bought that in Tammy Girl, telling Dad it was totally allowed in the fifth year. And look at the slap on my face. And the two-tone hair. And the skinny tie. If I was really pushing it, I’d have had black tights on instead of grey.

I was acing it on this occasion; getting away with all that on photo day? The deputy head must have been off that day, tending to her pet lion.

Hating school uniform and dicking about with it is what kids are supposed to do. Deciding which rules to enforce are what schools are supposed to do. Some days you’d get away with black tights and some days you’d get sent home, but you never gave up pushing, experimenting with ways to buck or maybe even change the system (we campaigned hard – and failed – for girls to be allowed to wear trousers). Pushing against the unfair school regime was our main occupation and purpose in life.

But our parents? They did no pushing. If they were doing the pushing for us, what pushing would we be left with? Carrying knives? Toting guns? Smoking crack? And didn’t the parents get to do their pushing when they were at school? I mean, whose schooldays are they anyway?

And where have all the adult parents gone?



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Written by Anna Macgowan

Anna is a writer and kids’ entertainer. She blogs at thedailyannagram.wordpress.com where recent topics include bins, bile and Boris Johnson.