Lunch money and phones taken as collateral for forgotten school ties

Want to read more?

We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a  subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device.  In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.

Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).

Already a subscriber?

 

Problems logging in and require
technical support? Click here
Subscribe Now

Teachers are asking pupils to hand over mobile phones or cash – often lunch money – to borrow Oban High School ties, it has been claimed.

A group of parents and carers campaigning for change to the school’s self-tailored uniform policy says members are ‘gravely concerned’ at the ‘inappropriate enforcement’ they allege is going on.

Oban High School Uniform Reform Group wants a council-led investigation.

The group says parents told them children are handing over money that is often meant to buy lunch, which leaves them with little or nothing to buy food and fluids for the rest of the school day.

An official statement from the group said: ‘We have nothing but appreciation for the care and time staff at Oban High School devote to the education and wellbeing of pupils. However we must express concern at the reported ongoing and inappropriate enforcement of OHS uniform policy.

‘We are gravely concerned at reports of staff insisting children hand over personal mobile phone or money, often lunch money, in order to borrow a school tie for a day.’

The reform group says at a time when classrooms are needing more ventilation because of Covid and pupils are adding extra layers of clothing to stay warm, it seems ‘preposterous’ to insist on borrowing a tie that may not been seen.

The statement added: ‘Whilst we support the use of school uniform, we cannot condone such inappropriate actions.

‘Young people are currently experiencing increased levels of anxiety and ongoing disruption, the removal of personal phones, often a lifeline for anxious teens or those with health or social needs, seems inappropriate and thoughtless.’

In response to a specific online poll question on the ‘collateral for ties’ issue, 80 per cent said their child had handed over a mobile phone while 20 per cent reported money being handed over. ‘All report their child felt they had no choice,’ said the group.

The uniform reform group says the enforcement is ‘deeply disturbing’ as it leaves pupils forced to choose between their nutritional needs or their emotional safety net.

The Oban Times was told £2 seems to be the set fee which ‘eats in to’ money that should be spent on lunch.

‘The emotional and physical wellbeing of pupils attending OHS should be paramount, therefore the ongoing inappropriate enforcement of the OHS school uniform policy, particularly with regards to the school tie seems to breach stated Argyll and Bute Council policy and puts children in a very difficult position.

‘We feel it is vital this continued inappropriate enforcement cease immediately and be fully investigated.’

Oban councillor Julie McKenzie says Argyll and Bute Council’s policy on school uniform could not be clearer in stating it is not compulsory. It also says pupils will not be deprived of any educational benefit as a result of not wearing uniform.

‘It would be ludicrous if we were required to add to it, that pupils will not be deprived of their dinner money,’ she added.

Councillor McKenzie says the council’s Executive Director Douglas Hendry has now given her reassurance that no child in Argyll and Bute should be asked to hand over dinner money for ties or anything else.

‘I therefore have every confidence that this issue is being fully investigated by the council’s education officials,’ she said.

Both phones and money are handed back when borrowed school ties are returned at the end of the day. ‘But that’s too late to buy lunch,’ said  Councillor McKenzie.

Oban High School was asked for a comment but redirected The Oban Times to the council’s press office. The council had not got back to the Oban Times with a response despite having had three working days to respond.

In a March newsletter to parents, OHS headteacher Peter Bain dedicated a section to school rules and wrote that to restrain any slippage in ‘our high expectations’ those expectations had been reinforced at a recent assembly where pupils were ‘reminded of the support on offer by the pastoral team to help them adhere to our rules.’