At Highfields we hold a regular Student Voice Group for KS3 and KS4. We also encourage students to write letters to the Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher where they strongly feel something needs to change for the better.
We don’t say ‘yes’ to every request and we will challenge students about particular issues as part of our investment in their personal development – but we also try to 1) make things possible wherever reasonably possible and 2) design out unnecessary staff-student conflict.
Most workplaces and schools have a dress code – at Highfields College this is true for both our young people and our employees. We believe a workplace dress code helps with:
- Protection – uniforms and work clothes help us not get more expensive clothing damaged.
- Belonging – uniforms and work clothes foster the sense that “we are all part of the same team.”
- Levelling – uniforms and work clothes help remove obvious wealth differences and pressures to spend on clothes for work / school.
- Mindset – we have clothes for relaxing, we have clothes for special occasions, we have clothes for working – most of us would accept getting dressed in a particular way for an event or activity gets our head in the right ‘zone’ for how we then approach it.
It is a story as old as time that adults and teenagers will have conflict over dress and what is deemed appropriate / not appropriate.
Over the past six months a number of young people have written to the Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher about leggings – it had become a source of daily staff-student conflict. We had previously not allowed leggings as a standalone item within our official uniform – this was because the material on leggings can vary with some being quite see-through and revealing. We felt it was also unfair on colleagues and students to have to go through an ‘inspection’ of the material of leggings as student arrived for school.
However, many of our young people have repeatedly said that this was the most convenient and comfortable form of legwear. As a result, we researched and tested various legging products – and, having found one suitable, we bought a large batch with our Highfields College badge embroidered on them.
We ensure the leggings we bought could be sold at a similar price to what is found on the high street and in supermarkets – and we issued all students who wanted one with a first free pair of Highfields College leggings, further pairs cost £7 each.
As a result we have now found a compromise over this issue and, as you will see, our newly student uniform guide reflects this.