Uni­form a poor fit - par­ents


A school uni­form rep­re­sents ev­ery­thing a coun­try school is not, claim par­ents and pupils op­pos­ing its in­tro­duc­tion in ru­ral Manawatu.

Uni­forms will be com­pul­sory at Waituna West School from the sec­ond term next year af­ter a board of trustees de­ci­sion, but not all fam­i­lies are happy.

The board of trustees, how­ever, says the de­ci­sion was led by par­ents.

Liz Giesen, whose son Jonty goes to the school, north-east of Feild­ing, said ini­tially she had been in favour of the uni­form, but af­ter Jonty gave a speech on not want­ing to wear it, she changed her tune.

With five chil­dren, four of whom at­tend the school and one who would in the next two years, Giesen said uni­forms would be ex­pen­sive.

If they were made com­pul­sory her chil­dren would wear them, but she would have to talk to the school about the speed of their in­tro­duc­tion.

‘‘I def­i­nitely will not be rush­ing out and buy­ing it.

‘‘I will be do­ing it to our bud­get.’’

None of her four chil­dren were in favour of the uni­form.

Jonty wrote a speech about the is­sue, op­posed to every­one look­ing the same.

Carly Thomas, an­other Waituna West par­ent and aFair­fax em­ployee, said uni­forms sti­fle iden­tity de­vel­op­ment and in­di­vid­ual ex­pres­sion at a cru­cial young age.

She has three chil­dren at the school; one in favour of uni­forms who will wear it once in­tro­duced, one who doesn’t care, and her daugh­ter Ava, 11, who is strongly against them.

Board of Trustees chair­woman Jill Kowalewski said the de­ci­sion was par­ent-led.

A sur­vey of fam­i­lies this year in­cluded a ques­tion on uni­forms and 21 of the 33 fam­i­lies at the school re­sponded – 82 per cent wanted uni­forms.

Par­ents said they felt uni­forms were more eco­nomic and sim­pli­fied the process of get­ting chil­dren ready for school.

‘‘They think it looks smarter and gives them a sense of own­er­ship and pride in their school.’’

The con­sul­ta­tion was fair as it had clearly in­di­cated a strong ma­jor­ity, she said.

The Waituna West Home and School com­mit­tee had of­fered to buy one uni­form fleece jumper for each child to help with costs, she said.

Sylvia Fletcher, a grand­mother of chil­dren at the school, was sup­port­ive of the uni­forms.

‘‘I just think it’s ease of wear and fi­nan­cials.

‘‘The kids know what to get into in the morn­ing.’’

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