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Withdrawing the need for token exchange when pupils borrow school ties, is one of a number of relatively minor ‘tweaks’ that could make Oban High School’s uniform guidance even better, according to a report just out.
The recommendations come out of a ‘reasonably brisk but thorough’ one-day consultation and evaluation by the high school to see if its current uniform guidelines enhances its ethos – or not.
Bringing token exchanges to an end is a u-turn by OHS after The Oban Times reported claims from a parent group that school staff were asking pupils to hand over mobile phones and lunch money to borrow ties for the day.
Allegations by OHS Uniform Review Group that those exchanges were ‘inappropriate enforcement,’ were followed by headteacher Peter Bain’s announcement that all 1,600 parents and carers, 165 staff and 951 pupils would be given their say on the uniform issue.
Parents and carers were given a four-hour slot in which to have their say and the commission met and consulted on a single day. Ultimately 116 individuals took part and 16 of those were members of the actual commission.
Responses from parents and carers’ were made up of four emails, 19 face-to-face interviews and input from six teachers who have children at the school. Nine members of staff sent in email responses and eight volunteered to give their views in person to commission members – the remaining responders were pupils.
Other recommendations being made include pupils being able to wear knee-length skirts or shorts without tights and the possibility of a smart hoodie displaying the school badge becoming an optional addition to the daily school kit.
Findings from the commission also revealed there was ‘universal support’ for a further probe into how ‘negative, mis-informed and ill-judged’ comments being made on social media are ‘causing reputational damage to the school’ and are ‘having a detrimental impact on some staff’s welfare’.
Those online comments, said the commission, were the ‘catalyst that ignited’ the uniform guidance discussions in the first place.
The commission came to the agreement that Oban High School Uniform Reform, Group, who have an online presence calling for changes in uniform and how it is enforced, does not represent the views of the ‘vast majority’ of the school community.
A parent provided the commission with an analysis of the Uniform Review Group’s membership showing that out of its 158 members, approximately 50 per cent were parents of current pupils, approximately ten of them were those making the comments and only seven of them have children in school at this time. OHS Uniform Review Group is a closed, private Facebook.
OHS Uniform Review Group said it was disappointed and shocked by the report signed off by retired councillor Roddy McCuish, saying it ‘lacks clarity and evidence’.
The group maintains the way uniform is being enforced is ‘inappropriate’ and is repeating a request for an official community-wide council-led probe.
According to the group the report, which they say appears to be unauthorised by the council, lacks any attempt to produce an unbiased report and attempts to undermine concerns of real-life experiences in a bid to ‘continue to pursue an enforcement policy that is untenable’.
‘It is now evident the council’s education department must make their position, and possible solutions, clear,’ said the group spokesperson.
The deeply concerned group alleged information on its membership featured in the report was ‘apparent breaching of both privacy and data protection legislation’.
A council spokesperson said: ‘The uniform commission has concluded and Oban High School will now bring into effect each of the recommendations. The school would like to thank the members of the commission and everyone who contributed to the consultation.’
You can read all 21-pages of the commission here: https://www.obanhigh.argyll-bute.sch.uk/parents/policies-and-documents