Head says no conflict with parents

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 July 2012

Protesters against Churchill School Uniform rules.

Protesters against Churchill School Uniform rules.

Archant

THE headteacher of a North Somerset academy says he hopes parents have learned ‘trying to shout loudest or being aggressive and unpleasant’ is not the way to make people ‘back down’.

Churchill Academy’s Dr Barry Wratten insists parents and staff are not in conflict over suggested new uniform policies, despite telling the Mercury he understands some mums and dads have made ‘unpleasant, libellous’ online remarks over the issue.

The Mercury ran a story last week saying the headteacher - a keen historian - had reversed his decision to ask parents to buy uniform from John Lewis exclusively.

In response to news of a Facebook page and petition set up by parents protesting against the change, Dr Wratten branded social networking ‘simplistic, instantaneous, often lacking in thought or consideration’ and said it is something he does not ‘particularly value’.

He also said children and their parents replenish their wardrobes of designer clothes ‘pretty regularly, paying quite a lot for their leisure clothes’.

A number of parents responded angrily to the story, making remarks on the Facebook page like ‘I am appalled at his comments! How condescending can he be?’ and adding they felt the comments were ‘derogatory, condescending and downright rude’.

Mother-of-three Linda Seabright says she has written to Dr Wratten to say: “If you are not already aware I am the admin and creator of the social networking you have bad-mouthed in the paper.

“Although history is an important part of who we are, you have been entrusted with our children’s future not past and if you don’t keep up with the times you are living in, you will never understand them, so in turn never be able to guide them to be the best they can be.

“I would also like to point out that neither I nor my children, own any designer clothing and neither do about 95 per cent of people I know.

“I believe as the head of a community school not a private school, you have an obligation to know the children in your care and do what is best for them.”

But Dr Wratten wrote a letter for publication in the Mercury this week. He says ‘parental input – constructive and measured’ has led the school to reappraise the position.

Dr Wratten says he and staff have decided they can ‘achieve the smarter uniform without these concerns and have acceded to parental requests’ to reconsider.

Dr Wratten has written to parents to tell them they will be able to get uniform from more than one place, but the rule that only girls in years seven and eight will be allowed to wear skirts once in the new maroon and grey uniform, will stand.

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