A long running bitter battle between parents and a school over a uniform policy change has been settled for the time being, but it’s far from over.
A long running bitter battle between parents and a school over a uniform policy change has been settled for the time being, but it’s far from over.

School backs down on formal uniform policy

A TOP state school has backed down on a controversial new uniform policy that would have compelled all students to wear formal attire every day in 2020.

Kenmore State High School had come under fire from disgruntled parents this year who had pushed back hard against the introduction of a five-day a week formal uniform policy.

Students even protested with a day of dissent while the P&C vice-president was removed for standing up against the changes introduced by recently appointed executive principal Paul Robertson.

Students at Kenmore State High School earlier this year protested against the proposed changes to the school's uniform policy in a 'day of dissent'. Picture: Darren Cartwright
Students at Kenmore State High School earlier this year protested against the proposed changes to the school's uniform policy in a 'day of dissent'. Picture: Darren Cartwright

The transition to an everyday formal uniform policy started this year when, after more than a decade of students being allowed to choose between the formal or sports uniforms, Year 7 pupils were required to wear formal attire every day of the week.

The remainder of the pupils only had to wear formal uniform on Mondays.

The progression to all students falling in line with an everyday formal uniform policy was to start in 2020, until Mr Robertson had a change of heart in an email sent in late November.

Only Year 7 and Year 8 students will now be required to wear formal uniform every day in 2020 while Year 9-12 will only be required to do so on Mondays and at parades, special functions and public events.

"The day (formal) uniform will be expected and enforced for every student in Years 7 and 8, in 2020, except on the days when they have sport related curriculum activities," Mr Robertson wrote.

"The day (formal) uniform will be expected and enforced for students in Years 9 to 12 in 2020 … every Monday."

He also wrote that following a report from a subcommittee, uniform prices had been "reduced dramatically" including monogrammed socks which have been slashed from $25, to $16, for three pairs.

Kenmore State High School principal Paul Robertson's uniform policy has not been universally embraced by parents. An email sent last week informed parents that the blanket formal uniform policy will now be introduced in 2021. Picture: Achper Australia
Kenmore State High School principal Paul Robertson's uniform policy has not been universally embraced by parents. An email sent last week informed parents that the blanket formal uniform policy will now be introduced in 2021. Picture: Achper Australia

 

 

 

Former P&C vice president Michael Sheehan, who is challenging his removal from the P&C, believes the late shift in uniform policy was because the principal wanted to avoid more push back from parents.

Mr Sheehan has argued that moving to a five-day a week formal uniform policy would cost parents more than $500 more per year per child in uniform costs.

"The email was received last week and I believe the reason they have extended the period is that they do not want to get the backlash I predicted," Mr Sheehan said.

"With just Year 7 and Year students wearing the formal uniform, two-thirds of the school will be happy to continue rolling."

He said the school still needed to go to the parents for a vote to officially change the uniform policy.

"Fundamentally it comes down to the policy which says, to make any changes to the school uniform it must be supported by a majority of parents and students."

"It hasn't gone a vote, explicitly."

Kenmore State High School’s former P & C vice president Michael Sheehan said more than 80 per cent of students and parents were against the formal uniform being enforced five days a week in 2020. Picture: Darren Cartwright
Kenmore State High School’s former P & C vice president Michael Sheehan said more than 80 per cent of students and parents were against the formal uniform being enforced five days a week in 2020. Picture: Darren Cartwright

 

Kenmore State High School was the 14th highest placed public school on last year's OP rankings and 58th overall.

It finished ahead of private schools Toowoomba Grammar (67th overall), Rockhampton Girls Grammar (70) and The Southport School (76) and respected Brisbane public institutions, Indooroopilly State High School (80) and Kelvin Grove State College (91).

Despite being a strong performer, the stoush over the uniform policy has fractured the school and reached its pinnacle with accusations that a teacher threatened a no-confidence motion against the acting president of the P&C at a meeting in October.

The "unrest and uproar" at the school's P&C gathering started when the acting chair closed the meeting early after ruling it had been invalidly called, said a parent who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions.

In dramatic scenes, not only was Mr Sheehan ejected from the P&C that evening, the president, the bookkeeper and the liaison officer all resigned.

"When a meeting is closed, it's closed but the teacher stood up and threatened the chair with a vote of no confidence and forced her to reopen for the vote, which was most irregular," the parent recently told The Courier-Mail

"There was unrest and uproar and there were voices that said 'we came here to vote'."

Mr Robertson and the Department of Education have been contacted for comment.