Thursday, 2 Feb 2023

Father’s fury as school confiscates son’s winter coat in uniform row

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A father has shared his outrage after a secondary school’s uniform policy prevented his son from wearing his own winter coat.

Aaron Bayley has accused Jesmond Park Academy, Newcastle, of having a “Dickensian attitude” towards pupils after the coat was confiscated during freezing temperatures as he was not wearing the jacket specified in the school’s uniform policy. 

Under the policy, all pupils must wear a black Canterbury-branded jacket with the school’s logo embroidered on the front. However, after his son, Levon, was admitted to hospital with suspected Strep A in November, Aaron claims he was told by the medical staff treating his son that the school coat he was wearing was not suitable.

Levon, aged 12, was later diagnosed with flu and, following his return to school, his parents allowed him to wear a thick winter coat if temperatures plummeted.

Despite this, the school has confiscated the coat on a number of occasions because it is not part of the uniform policy. Speaking to the ChronicleLive, the parents say they have been in an ongoing battle with the school to allow flexibility in their policy, which would allow suitable clothing, such as a winter coat and boots, to be worn during severe weather.

Aaron, 47, said: “Two medical experts, the doctor and the hospital, have said that the coat is just not warm enough and he should have a better coat on in this weather. When the weather is mild I don’t mind sending him to school in the Jesmond Park Academy coat. But when it’s really cold I don’t want him to be susceptible to catching anything else.

“But the school don’t seem to grasp it. They have this Dickensian attitude towards the kids, and the kids and the parents, will do as they say,” he added. 

Jesmond Park Academy’s uniform policy, listed on the school website, states: “The only coat that may be worn is the Jesmond Park Academy coat and/or micro fleece. This school coat must be worn between October half term and February half term on the journey to and from school.”

Aaron, from Newcastle, describes the coat as a “very thin fleece with a wafer thin liner jacket which the fleece zips into”. After snow fell across the region on Monday and Thursday Aaron sent Levon to school in a warm padded winter coat, which the school then confiscated for the duration of the school day.

He said: “When he arrived at school wearing the coat, there were three teachers waiting for him, each of them wearing a big winter coat, and they confiscated his.”

Aaron, who is also a teacher, said he understands the need for uniform policies and parents with children at the school will have varying disposable incomes, which means some people might be unable to afford branded items for their children. However, he explained that the Canterbury jacket, which costs £56 for the jacket and fleece, is expensive and does not need to be part of the uniform.

He added: “If you’re a struggling family that has more that one kid in the school, you’re looking at over £100 for a coat when you could go to a supermarket and probably buy them a coat for £20 which is a lot warmer. They really need to think about some of the policies they have because this is not the trousers, a jumper, or a blazer with the school emblem on, this is a coat.”

Further information on the school website states: “Any student arriving to school in what we consider incorrect uniform will work in isolation unless the issue can be corrected, for example, changing shoes or removing jewellery. This rule is not negotiable and applies to all students.

“The school does not accept notes or letters from parents/carers to excuse students from wearing full school uniform. Any student that is unable to wear full school uniform due to a medical condition will need to supply the school with a suitable letter from a medical professional explaining how wearing uniform would negatively affect their condition.

“For ongoing issues, such a letter would need to be renewed at the start of each academic year.”

The Gosforth Group, which runs Jesmond Park Academy, declined to comment.

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