Parents revolt over school bag policy
Introduction of compulsory uniform bags is labelled as ‘ridiculous’
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