Barefoot de­bate

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - SAM SMALLBONE

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.”

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