School Rules Again…

Teachers at Quest Academy, in Selsdon, are seizing jackets if students are seen wearing or carrying them indoors.

Pupils say it is “unbelievable” to introduce the rule at a time of year when many walk home in freezing weather.


But they get the coats back, don’t they?

Student Bilal Afghan, 14, said: “The actual rule is, that once the school day has started, if you’re inside the building with a coat on, it’s confiscated.

“If you are holding your coat in the school building and it’s not either in your bag or locker, or is in sight of the teachers at all, it is confiscated for a month and kept at school.

…my friend’s coat was taken away from him and he had his phone and wallet in it. They wouldn’t let him get them until the next day.”

Hmmmm, not sure I’d agree with that, but then, if those are the rules, those are the rules.

It is not the first time the academy’s disciplinary code has been questioned.

Last year the Advertiser reported how it had earned the nickname “the prison” among pupils and parents after hugs, high-fives and handshakes were banned.

Ah. Well, of course. Cracking down on ‘gang culture’ is no doubt the reason behind that one, but the coats issue is a little odder.

The principal (yes, an Americanism we could well do without) doesn’t shed any light on it either:

Responding to the criticism, principal Andy Crofts said: “The Quest’s uniform policy clearly states that outside coats are not to be worn inside the buildings after morning registration.

“This requirement has been clearly explained to all students.

“To assist students with keeping their coats and other possessions safe and secure, every student has been issued with a personal locker and is expected to use it for this purpose.

“If a student doesn’t follow our requirements then there are consequences, which can include confiscation.

“Students can always avoid this situation by doing the right thing, and we work hard to ensure that all students make the right choices and accept responsibility for their actions.

“That’s part of being a successful school.”

Some note that the school doesn’t explain their rule and they should do:

by Lord_Dennett

“The response from the principal is telling – “This is our rule because this is our rule. Pupils who do not follow the rules will be punished, those who do follow the rules will not be punished.” There is an interesting absence of any attempt to explain or justify this rule, which appears then to be entirely arbitrary.”

But….should they have to explain and/or justify it? Are they entitled to demand this, and if the explanation is not forthcoming, or doesn’t suit them, disobey it?

The next commenter makes quite a valid point:

by mikeyjf

“I am sorry, this is why some school are in a terrible state of affairs, with parents and children ruling the school! When I grew up our coats were left in our lockers and you only used them at break times or home time! Some children today along with their parents need to get a life and shut up and respect the rules, rules are rules “what are they going to do when they work in the real world””

This ties in quite neatly with the post MacHeath wrote on the decline of respect and the child-centred culture ruining our schools. Life’s full of arbitrary rules, after all.

And another commenter advances a possible valid fear driving this, given the school’s catchment area and former reputation:

by Ivor_Shed

“I’m sure this rule has been made for a reason and it will not be because teachers have a phobia about seeing coats. Criminals carry coats to conceal the handcuffs. Perhaps schoolkids carry coats to conceal the knives.

It’s worth thinking about. 

17 comments for “School Rules Again…

  1. Tedious tantrums
    March 2, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I almost always agree with you Julia but maybe not so much on this article.

    One of the main tools that the “righteous” have is to enforce rules across the population as a whole rather than dealing with the original problem directly with those that cause it.

    Schools should be “learner” centric since the learners are the customers. Again the “righteous” come forward with stupid ideas, such as having learners involved in choosing teachers, grading teachers and insisting on “equality” which their “righteous” version just isn’t.

    Schools should be a joyful place for learners to be. Every single school should be a shining exemplar of learner enrichment. Rules should be kept to a minimum and disruptive learners dealt with in a manner which helps them but does not also bestow privilege which is the case at the moment.

    Rules should always be explained and justified and be subject to review, improvement and, shock, horror, probe… revoke if there is no case for their continuing use.

    I’ve been writing on education at my own blog and occasionally at Subrosa’s also about education. It is core to improving everyone’s future. I can also feel a pamphlet coming on.

    • March 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

      “Schools should be a joyful place for learners to be.”

      No question. But….consider where this school is.

      And consider that schools come under immense pressure to retain on their rolls ‘children’ who are dangerous little mini-gangsters, or disturbed.

      Can you blame them for implementing rules that might serve to keep them and their charges safe?

      • Tedious tantrums
        March 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm

        But that’s just like the Elfnsafety or and the Precautionary Principle. The slightest risk and it’s a blanket response.

        The children/pupils/students/learners who cause problems are mainly the same ones all the time. Deal with them.

        Similarily the overall school environment reflect the catchment area and panders to the political framework of the local council education department. Deal with them.

        Let’s deal with the cause not the effect. Governments and politicians seem only to be able to recognise effect and try to deal with those. WAKE UP!

        Great post Julia!

        • March 2, 2012 at 12:43 pm

          Yes, true. But a blanket response is all that’s left to so many institutions now.

          Especially if you might wind up in the dock for instilling discipline in the old time-honoured way…

    • March 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I don’t subscribe to the idea that children are customers of a school. customers have rights and choices and they also have the power to affect the policy of the provider.

      None of this should be the case for a child in school.

      When a baby is born it is nothing more than a dumb animal. Education from birth to adulthood, including time spent at schools, should not be open to approval from the children and they should not have choices or be able to change they way things are done. A proper education is necessary for them to enter society as an adult and they are in no position to decide how this educartion is done. Children are, by defenition, stupid.

      Schools are crap these days largely because we have been asking the uneducated how they would like to be educated. A system doomed to fail if ever there was one.

      Also, I don’t see this as the introduction of a new rule but the re-introduction of an old one. We had the same rule when we were at school in the nineties. The only difference now is that the punishment is harsher because the rules have been away for so long it takes more to make children follow them.

      We don’t wear our coats at our desks at work and neither will these children when they grow up and get jobs. The difference between us and them is we are not following a rule, we just don’t want to wear our coats inside. Why? Because we have grown up. These children will grow up too one day. Until then, they have rules.

      • March 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

        Water in the desert at last.

  2. Watchman
    March 2, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Is not the key question whether this is a common complaint from parents (who are the customers – the children in the school are… well, children)? If this is only a minority complaining (and my guess is that it is), then this is fine with most of the ‘learners’ and their parents.

    Anyway, from experience in schools, the kind of pupil who wants to keep their coat on is likely to be the disruptive one who plays with things from the pockets (phones in particular) and who wears the coat to display their allegiance, wealth or something which uniform is designed to cut out. So this policy is likely well targetted.

    • March 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Indeed. And as TT points out above, it’s treating symptoms, because the treatment for the causes has been ruled ‘unacceptable’.

      Without consulting anyone.

  3. March 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for the link.

    I think Watchman makes a good point; these rules are often introduced in response to a perceived problem.

    An interesting parallel is the banning of ‘hugs, high-fives and handshakes’, the result of a zero-tolerance policy on physical contact. In a school which has experienced violent clashes between pupils, this makes it easier for staff to spot any potential aggression as soon as it starts and take appropriate action, rather than first having to judge whether the contact observed is horseplay or genuine violence.

    • March 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm

      Agreed, and so the harmless hug between friends gets lumped in with the ‘fistbump’ between wannabe gangstas that the school isn’t allowed to expel.

      It’s sad, but until someone come along who is willing to deal with the causes, we’ll see more and more of these bizarre rules attempting to address the symptoms.

  4. Maaarrghk!
    March 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I’m very uncomfortable with this idea of kids at skool (or their parents) being “customers”.

    We’ve already gone down the “customer” route with universities and look where that has left us.

    • March 2, 2012 at 12:47 pm

      Me too! And ‘student’ is another one I loathe.

  5. Tattyfalarr
    March 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Hasn’t anyone noticed or questioned that it’s only the student who claims coats are confiscated for a month ?

    When “responding to critisism” the principal doesn’t appear to be aware of that particular claim as nothing he says refers to, confirms or denies it.

    Strange, since that’s the only unreasonable part that I can see is worthy of any attention. It’d be a non-story otherwise. 🙄

    • March 2, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      The pupil’s claim is, bizarrely, immediately followed by the statement that his friend got his coat back ‘the next day’.

      I rather liked the comment on the article pointing out that, just behind the poor shivering lad conspicuously huddled in his jumper, two girls in blouses and unbuttoned cardigans are comfortably chatting in the open air.

  6. Mudplugger
    March 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    At my secondary school back in the 1960s, it was that rule that outdoor shoes must be changed for indoor ones in the cloakroom and under no circumstances may they be worn elsewhere in the school. Why ? Never really asked, it was The Rule – disregard it and you were in detention – no-one disregarded it.
    Teachers wore outdoor shoes, pupils didn’t. No-one bitched about it. Rules were there to be obeyed not debated.
    It prepared the pupils for a world in which many apparently illogical constraints apply but in which you may progress by obeying them or be devising smart work-arounds – ideal training for any UK Tax-payer.

    • March 3, 2012 at 8:41 am

      Ah memories. And we did not have lockers. Just pegs on the wall and the stink of wet (outdoor) shoes.

  7. Jim
    March 2, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    My guess is (as others have also pointed out) that this is entirely ‘gang’ related. I expect the reason the school refuse to say that is a) they don’t want to admit to a problem, and b) they don’t want to be accused of racism for targeting a problem that is undoubtedly focussed on pupils of an ethnic background. So they bring in a blanket ban on everyone, and keep schtum as to the real reason.

    Also, do schools have CCTV these days? If so the wearing of coats (which would presumably have hoods) would want to be discouraged so pupils could be readily identified on camera.

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