Parents' anger at 'gate of shame' entrance for pupils at Noadswood School
OUTRAGED parents have accused a New Forest school of humiliating pupils by forcing anyone not in “perfect” uniform to enter through what has been dubbed the “gate of shame”.
Noadswood School in Dibden Purlieu has introduced the new system for children deemed not to have the right outfit in the morning.
According to parents, teachers have been posted on the gates to the school, in North Road, to monitor pupils.
Those not wearing the right clothing, according to school rules, are directed towards what has been officially called the “Ready to Learn” entry.
Some parents have reacted angrily on social media, accusing the school of “segregating” youngsters and causing needless anxiety.
One said: “This is a state school, not Eton!”
In an announcement to parents about the new rules, head teacher Kathryn Marshall said the gate is for “all students who need support reaching our uniform expectations”.
She said the new system was an effort to “continue to strive to return uniform to the highest standards at Noadswood”.
She went on: “As you know, this push comes from our commitment to our students being ready, safe in all they do, and full of pride in their professional uniform when they come to school.”
Miss Marshall added that the new system “recognises those young people who consistently get the uniform right, wearing it with pride and care, whilst also allowing us to support those students who currently are struggling to maintain the highest standards.
“If a student arrives at their identified gate in correct uniform, they will be allowed to enter the school site and praised for wearing their uniform with pride.
“If someone is not wearing 100% perfect uniform, they will be redirected to the Ready to Learn gate by duty colleagues.”
There, pupils not wearing the right uniform would be “loaned” items, and would have to remove anything on the “prohibited” list.
Miss Marshall added: “This won’t be a place for tellings-off and conflict first thing in the morning – no one needs that. Just a place to get things resolved before the day begins.”
But one angry parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told the A&T: “We all realise there can be issues at school with uniform but the way they are dealing with it is totally extreme.
“I saw 10 children being sent away from the gate to the gate of shame. It made me really angry. The kids just looked really shocked.
“There’s a closed Facebook page for parents and there are literally over 100 comments on there from parents saying, what’s going on?
“The school has significant other issues, like bullying, which teachers should be concentrating on.”
The announcement was greeted with shock by other parents, with one commenting on social media: “This is absolutely disgusting. They have got this so wrong.”
Another claimed: “Great way Noadswood School to lower a child’s self-esteem, confidence and cause anxiety.”
Others said they feared for pupils’ mental health having to cope with the worry of being sent to the “naughty” gate, and urged teachers instead to speak with parents in private about any uniform issues.
One said: “Whoever came up with this idea should be ashamed of themselves.”
One parent, who claimed they worked in a school, said they were “well aware of how some children struggle with mental health”, adding: “The last thing they need is to be singled out or made to feel worse.”
Another advised the school to “maybe look at the history lessons you teach and see what other regime this reminds you of”.
A spokesperson for Noadswood School said: “We strive to ensure our students leave our school well prepared for further education and the world of work. We have high expectations for every aspect of our students’ behaviour and learning. This includes a commitment to creating an environment in which exemplary behaviour is at the heart of productive learning, developing students’ independence and helping them take pride and care in their uniform – to dress and act in a professional manner – ready for learning, ready for life.
“The challenges of Covid meant we allowed greater flexibility in uniform throughout the pandemic – a key part of our ‘return to normal’ is encouraging the return to proper uniform. To facilitate this, we engaged with students, staff, trustees and families to ensure they understood the rationale behind the enforcement of our uniform policy, including through having separate gates for those in proper uniform. We understand the challenges many families face in ensuring their children have the uniform they need, which is why our school has invested funding to provide shoes and uniform for those who need support.
“In just the first week, our gate initiative has proven to be a great success – of the handful of students who started the week in incorrect uniform, nearly all are already in proper uniform, and we continue to support the remainder to ensure they will be fully prepared. We always take great pride in how well our students represent our School throughout our community, and are grateful for all of the support from our students and families in bringing back our normal uniform.”