An Offending Shoe
John Carter (not his real name) is twelve years old and attends his local comprehensive school.
Earlier this term his mother was surprised when she was rung up while she was at work by a secretary from John's school, who instructed her to bring a pair of appropriate shoes for her son immediately. She explained that she worked in a special school for children with extreme learning and physical disabilities and could not leave her charges. She asked to speak to a member of the teaching staff to resolve the issue but was unable to talk to anyone until the following morning.
As a result the school 'parked' John for the whole day. This means that he was removed from his regular lessons and made to sit alone. One teacher had to supervise him, and the teachers from all the five classes that he was prevented from attending had to set him special work. John had a quiet time, but six teachers had extra work to do.
The next day, when John's mother's call was returned, she was told that this was the only time he had been pulled up for his uniform, and that he was polite and accepting of the consequence of his breach of the school rules.
This is one of the shoes he was wearing. It should have been black all over. The green lines kept John out of lessons for a full day.
When I have told this story to other people, many of them have responded with similar stories about children they knew who had been excluded from lessons for insignificant breaches of uniform rules. At schools which follow the example of Mossbourne Academy such exclusions are a matter of course.
Children have to go to school whether they want to or not. When they get there, the school may refuse to teach them if they are not dressed in exactly the same way as everyone else. The message is that conformity matters more than learning. Perhaps that is a lesson that all too many adults have taken to heart.