BAREFOOT school students are being given the chance to voice their opinions about wearing shoes to school as part of this week’s homework.
The debate on whether local primary school students wear shoes to school has been a hot topic for teachers and parents in the Douglas region for years but youngsters finally have had their say.
Port Douglas State School students in Years 3, 5 and 7 were given the task of writing three reasons why they should and should not wear shoes to school, as practice for their National Assessment Program -Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) persuasive writing task.
Port Douglas State School Parents and Citizens president Julie Laurence said the homework was designed to stimulate debate in hopes that a decision could be made for next year’s uniform policy.
“It is a really hot topic for parents, some agree with the fact that their children should be allowed to walk around barefoot because it is the wet season and others feel that it is a workplace health and safety issue,” she said.
“It’s really torn them because a lot of people live up here for the freedom but when it comes down to it - parents who want their children to wear shoes should just tell them not to take their shoes off.”
The barefoot, free and easy lifestyle is just part of the norm for locals in the Douglas region however for some mothers and fathers who have just moved to the region, it is another culture.
Mt Molloy State School principal Tracy Mussap said a majority of the students don’t wear shoes to school, even during winter.
“I think they should wear shoes to school for safety reasons but the P&C have decided that it should be optional for parents,” she said. “A lot of students do come to school barefoot because it is very hot during the summer months and we do get a lot of rain so their shoes always get wet.”
Some schools such as Mossman State School enforce the rule, no shoes no play.
Mossman State High School principal Vicki Sparks said students have to wear shoes when they play outside because their school grounds are used on weekends by visitors.
“We get a lot of visitors here on weekends for sporting events so children are not allowed to play out on the oval if they do not have their shoes at school,” principal Vicki Sparks said.
“Some students do come to school with no shoes on, but they are only allowed to have lunch in the library or in undercover areas.”
The only school in the region to enforce school shoes is St Augustine’s Catholic School.
Principal Yvonne Devlin said students wear shoes as they are a Catholic-driven school which educates children on values.
“Wearing a uniform - with shoes - is important to us because we have an identity,” she said.
“Wearing shoes to school is also a workplace health and safety issue.
“In the summer time the concrete outside can become very hot for young children to walk on, and in the rainy weather the grounds can become very muddy so they need to be protected.
“We are proud to wear our shoes.”