PARENTS are furious after a York school warned that their children may be unable to attend their lessons if they are wearing the wrong trousers or skirts.

More than 700 people have signed a petition calling on Millthorpe School to think again over its new uniform policy, which they claim insists on ‘expensive’ branded trousers or skirts in breach of Department for Education and Local Government Association guidance.

The petition claims parents are being forced to buy trousers and skirts carrying the school’s crest from one particular York shop, at more than double the amount they would have to pay for plain trousers at a supermarket.

It claims DfE guidelines say schools should seek to source items that are best value for money and available “in supermarkets and other good value shops," while the LGA asks schools to give parents the chance to simply sew or iron new badges onto existing clothes.

Millthorpe School said the policy was adopted to address "significant numbers of students arriving in school in inappropriate skirts or trousers", and no students had missed lessons, been excluded, secluded or put in detention as a result of the policy.

One mother, Miriam Hill, of Acomb, said she had refused to buy the new trousers for her 15-year-old son Kyle on a point of principle, and anticipated he would go into seclusion as a consequence. She said two pairs of plain black trousers from Tesco had cost her £15, while she would have had to pay £18.50 for just one pair of the new branded trousers.

Another mother, Amanda Robinson, said she had unhappily bought the new trousers and skirts for her son Michael and daughter Emma, who both attended Millthorpe, but had had to use her credit card as her budget was tight.


She protested that there had been no consultation with parents and the supplier had a monopoly.

Micklegate councillor Jonny Crawshaw said he would be meeting with the school’s head, Gemma Greenhalgh, today, seeking clarifications on the new policy following conversations he had had with several parents of Millthorpe pupils.

He said he was ‘troubled’ there was only one supplier where branded skirts and trousers can be purchased and the cost appeared to be significantly higher than similar, unbranded clothing.

“Given that pupils will likely need multiple items, I am concerned that the total cost of branded uniform could be prohibitively high for some families.

“I recognise that Millthorpe are offering financial support to low-income families but some may be reluctant to request help and others will find themselves just above any threshold for assistance.

“Furthermore, given the funding pressures all schools are currently facing, if money is available to support families it could surely be better spent elsewhere than on branded uniform."

He added that to his knowledge, Millthorpe School was currently the only York school to be enforcing compulsory branded uniform of this type, and he was particularly concerned by suggestions pupils wearing un-branded but perfectly smart uniform were facing sanctions including being prevented from attending lessons and the policy appeared to breach DfE Guidance.

A statement from Millthorpe School said: "The school had advised parents that students may be placed in seclusion if they did not comply with requests to wear the correct uniform. This was the school’s existing policy regarding uniform and no additional measures have been introduced in relation to the uniform changes.

"This year, as always, the school has been working with students and parents to resolve any issues of uniform compliance and we have been able to do that without needing to withdraw any students from lessons."

The school added that the petition was open to anyone and was "not really representative of the Millthorpe view".

Millthorpe School head teacher Gemma Greenhalgh said governors had decided to make standardised trousers and skirts part of the uniform in response to a persistent problem of significant numbers of students arriving in school in inappropriate skirts or trousers, despite efforts to address this with students and parents.

She said governors felt standardising these items was the best way to remove problems faced by parents when choosing uniform, often under pressure from their children to choose unsuitable styles for school, such as skinny-fit trousers and skirts that were too short.

“This is an issue faced by many secondary schools and other schools in York have already chosen to have standardised trousers and/or skirts.”

She said governors always took account of DfE uniform guidance when deciding which items it was appropriate to standardise to achieve a smart, consistent and affordable uniform.

Inevitably the school would always be limited to one supplier for bespoke items but governors felt the standard trousers and skirts still offered good value when compared with cheaper alternatives, and the school issued uniform vouchers to lowest income households and provided support to other parents struggling with costs. She said a full review would happen later this year to ensure the best balance of cost and quality, and no students had missed any lessons, been excluded, secluded or put in detention as a result of the policy.