Par­ents re­volt over school bag pol­icy

In­tro­duc­tion of com­pul­sory uni­form bags is la­belled as ‘ridicu­lous’

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­

AN UXBRIDGE school is fac­ing a par­ents’ re­volt over the in­tro­duc­tion of manda­tory uni­formed bags.

Stock­ley Academy in Park View Road is re­quir­ing pupils to carry the school’s own brand bag, which is black with the red academy logo, and comes in four styles and with a cost of £9 to £17.50.

The school, which has pledged to turn the cor­ner af­ter be­ing rated ‘in­ad­e­quate’ by Of­sted in­spec­tors in June, has run into more trou­ble af­ter par­ents launched an online pe­ti­tion ti­tled ‘Stop the Stock­ley bag change’ against the new uni­form pol­icy. It has gath­ered 472 sig­na­tures so far.

A mother of a year nine pupil, Terri Aubrey, said: “Ev­ery­one is voic­ing their con­cerns and some are think­ing of pulling their chil­dren out be­cause [the prin­ci­pal] is more wor­ried about what the kids look like than their ac­tual ed­u­ca­tion. We got a text say­ing we have to buy the bags and we don’t have a choice. Some par­ents can’t af­ford it. I can but other par­ents who are on ben­e­fits can’t, I mean they’re not cheap.”

Kelly Stevens, par­ent of a year 10 pupil, added: “If each child has the same bag, they’re go­ing to be pick­ing up each oth­ers bags. They’ve got their bus passes in there, their door keys and phones in there and I just think ev­ery­thing is go­ing to go miss­ing.”

And another mum, Josephine Siso­dia, who is boy­cotting the bags, said: “The school have given chil­dren the bags and they’re in­sist­ing on us pay­ing for them as well. They’re stand­ing out­side the gates when the chil­dren are go­ing in in the morn­ing check­ing their uni­forms, I think it’s ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous.”

Prin­ci­pal Leo Gil­bert, who took charge of the school in May, is “very pleased” with the new bags.

He said: “The way you wear uni­form says how you value ed­u­ca­tion and how proud you are to be a mem­ber of Stock­ley Academy and within the first week or two we man­aged to im­prove the smart­ness and con­sis­tency of stu­dent’s uni­form.” The head said pre­vi­ously, girls came to the school with “ex­pen­sive de­signer hand­bags” and boys would carry “lit­tle pouches” which were “too small and not ap­pro­pri­ate for car­ry­ing equip­ment”.

He added: “The vast ma­jor­ity of stu­dents came to school wear­ing the bag and we’ve had lots of pos­i­tive com­ments from par­ents about how nice the bags were that they’re good value and cru­cially, that they over­came this is­sue of stu­dents pres­sur­ing their par­ents into buy­ing an ex­pen­sive bag for them, so I think it wins all ways round.”

Mr Gil­bert said he is aware of the pe­ti­tion and takes the con­cerns of bags go­ing miss­ing “very se­ri­ously”.

He added: “We’ve ad­dressed that by al­low­ing stu­dents to sub­tly per­son­alise their bags and there be­ing a range of de­signs to choose from.”

Stock­ley Of­sted crit­i­cism

STOCK­LEY Academy’s new prin­ci­pal has ad­mit­ted the school “took its eye off the ball” prior to his ar­rival.

Leo Gil­bert was speak­ing can­didly af­ter the school learned it had re­ceived a damn­ing Of­sted re­port fol­low­ing an in­spec­tion in June, and has promised to get it back on track.

In­spec­tors said the academy in Park View Road, Uxbridge, was ‘in­ad­e­quate’ over­all and high­lighted be­hav­iour and safety of pupils and the sixth form pro­vi­sion as ‘re­quir­ing im­prove­ment’.

Lead­er­ship and man­age­ment, qual­ity of teach­ing and achieve­ment of pupils were all deemed as ‘in­ad­e­quate’.

The school is now on spe­cial mea­sures, which will see a se­nior in­spec­tor keep­ing a close eye on the Academy, and vis­it­ing the school once a term for the next two years.

Re­spond­ing to the crit­i­cism, Mr Gil­bert said: “No par­ent needs to be con­cerned about the qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion their chil­dren are get­ting here.

“The main thing that came out of the re­port was that the Academy seems to have taken it’s eye off the ball in the last year or two.

“The re­sults in 2014 were dis­ap­point­ing, the re­sults in 2015 were bet­ter but it seems that the lead­er­ship at the academy has meant that the in­cred­i­bly hard work­ing and tal­ented staff have just not been given the guid­ance they needed over the last cou­ple of years.”

He added that Of­sted had recog­nised that in­di­vid­u­als in the school were do­ing a good job and but the “clar­ity and con­sis­tency that’s pro­vided by good lead­er­ship and man­age­ment” hasn’t been there.

“This has led to a low­er­ing of ex­pec­ta­tions in many ways and the stu­dents picked up on that and not sur­pris­ingly, they’ve al­lowed their own ex­pec­ta­tions to slip,” said Mr Gil­bert, who was ap­pointed in May.

Of­sted in­spected Stock­ley Academy dur­ing the new head’s fourth week in charge.

He said: “It was in­ter­est­ing po­si­tion to be in but a chal­lenge that I tried to rise to.

“When I started, I could see that I needed to get ev­ery­one see­ing things in the same way and to find what it is we need to do to work to­gether and things im­proved very quickly.

“There clearly are prob­lems that have been in place for a cou­ple of years but the Academy is al­ready on the up.”

As the new term be­gins, Mr Gil­bert is con­fi­dent he can get the Academy off spe­cial mea­sures af­ter a year, and hopes for an Out­stand­ing in three or four years.

He added: “If you walk round the Academy you see that chil­dren are in lessons, they’re be­ing taught well in fan­tas­tic fa­cil­i­ties, the build­ings are great and have a re­ally good feel to them.

“I didn’t dis­agree with the in­spec­tor’s judge­ment, I saw the things that they saw, they have ev­i­dence and data and it wasn’t as it should be in many ways. But it is an Academy where things are rapidly im­prov­ing.”

Mr Gil­bert is invit­ing as many par­ents as pos­si­ble to a ‘Meet the Prin­ci­ple’ event at the Academy on Mon­day Septem­ber 21 at 6.30pm.

n ACHIEVE­MENT: Stock­ley Academy pupils pre­sented with cer­tifi­cates by The Lon­don Am­a­teur Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion in 2014

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