'Parents unhappy about non-uniform days should come and talk to me' says headteacher at Harborough school
The head of a leading Market Harborough school has urged parents angered by non-uniform days to go and talk to her.
Julie McBrearty said she was prepared to talk to anyone upset by the Dress as You Please tradition at Welland Park Academy.
The principal said the special event is held at the end of every half-term to reward pupils for good behaviour and good attendance.
Miss McBrearty spoke after two people told the Harborough Mail that the school was “driving a wedge” between youngsters.
She said: “We operate an open door policy at Welland Park Academy.
“My message to anyone who’s not happy with anything here is simple – come and talk to me.”
The school, which has 991 students aged from 11-16, staged a Dress as You Please day on Thursday October 10.
The special pat on the back coincided with World Mental Health Day, mounted to highlight mental health issues among children and young people.
A woman of 54 told the Mail: “I have a grandson aged 11 at Welland Park.
“I just don’t think it’s right that some children can wear what they liked that day and others had to stick to their uniform.
“It’s humiliating and demeaning for kids who for what ever reason were not allowed to take part.”
She added: “It’s a total contradiction that this sort of two-tier practice is happening on a special mental health awareness day.
“Surely this would just make the kids excluded feel a whole lot worse?
“This is supposed to be an inclusive day for everyone but appears designed to punish rather than reward.”
A furious Harborough mum-of-five, 50, said: “The kids should all be treated the same.
“This policy is divisive and drives a wedge between pupils – making those left out feeling inferior.
“There’s a lot of anger among parents over this.”
But Miss McBrearty insisted: “Our Dress as You Please day just happened to coincide with the mental health awareness event.
“The two events were totally separate.
“We’ve held Dress as You Please on the last day of every half-term for the last four or five years to reward students for good behaviour and good attendance.
“It’s proved very popular and successful.
“We also ran other activities that day to mark mental health awareness because we know how crucial that is.”
She said she’s spoken to just two parents who protested about the Dress as You Please day.
“I received one phone call from a parent which was about something else and then she raised this issue with us and one other parent emailed the main office.
“We are always very positive and pro-active about student well being here,” said Miss McBrearty.
“It’s high up on our agenda.
“Our last Ofsted report rated our pastoral care as outstanding and we support all our pupils as well as we can here.”