A secondary school is cracking down on its uniform policy and confiscating children’s coats at the gates – as they arrive wrapped-up warm for snow.
Harris Academy has been accused of stripping children of winter clothing which fail to meet its harsh new policy which demands students wear black coats only.
The Orpington secondary school, in south east London, banned hoodies under any circumstances and parents claim their children are being put into isolation for wearing the wrong coloured coat.
New rules published on the school’s website said: ‘Students should have an appropriate and sensible black outdoor coat.
‘Hoodies are NOT allowed under any circumstances and will be confiscated.
‘No sleeveless jackets or leather jackets. Coats must be removed before entering a classroom so that students are ready to learn.’
The school believes wearing a uniform helps students develop ‘a sense of loyalty and belonging’ and encourages them to take pride in their appearance.
Black fleece gloves and scarves and a selection of black coats are available to purchase from the website including a £29 waterproof coat and a £15 reversible fleece jacket.
But parents blasted the new policy they claim is putting their children’s education at risk.
They said the rules started being enforced this term despite them not being informed of any changes and that their children wore different coloured coats last year.
Shaun Pender arranged for his daughter to wear her grey coat until payday when he could buy her a new black one, but she was put into isolation and her coat was confiscated last Tuesday.
Parent Bradley Petken, whose son attends the academy, met with the headteacher last week.
He said: ‘The headteacher said the children can wear whatever coat to and from school but the minute they come into the school gates, if it is not black they take the coat away until the end of the day.
‘My son’s coat is dark navy blue and plain Nike – nothing else – but still not allowed.’
Another parent said her son was ‘coughing and chesty’ after having his khaki coat taken away at the school gate.
Ceejae Eastwood commented on Facebook and wrote: ‘Bit naughty that school is full of kids off an estate where most parents rely on small amounts of benefits.’
Pupils have also been falling foul of the rules on what shoes they can wear.
Another mum said her daughter was sent home for wearing the wrong footwear, even though she had a written note to explain she had an open wound that was healing.
She said: ‘I understand schools have rules and I always back them.
‘But to send my daughter home for wearing black trainers that are discreet and having a note from me and a visible open wound on her heal is not reason to send her home.’
The Harris Academy replaced The Priory School in 2016 after it was judged inadequate by Ofsted.
A spokesman said: ‘At the time, and as part of our wider efforts to ensure better standards for pupils, we implemented a clear set of rules on uniform.
‘Many schools stipulate a colour of coat for pupils to wear and we chose black as this is the easiest option for parents to find and buy.
‘Many families welcome the rule as it removes the pressure to buy their children expensive items of clothing.’
The school provides financial assistance for families to buy a coat when needed and maintain the ‘only way to be fair to the many parents and follow the rules is to be consistent.’
The spokesperson added: ‘School policy would not be to exclude a pupil for breaching our uniform policy.
‘However, if a pupil either refuses to cooperate or is abusive when they are reminded of our rules, then they would need to be appropriately sanctioned.
‘Any parents who are unhappy with the uniform policy are encouraged to speak to the executive principal of the academy about their concerns.’