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Sixth-formers to be ‘suited and booted’ in dress code changes at Felixstowe Academy

09:00 08 September 2015

Is this how sixth form students should dress?

Is this how sixth form students should dress?

Archant

Sixth-formers at a Suffolk academy have been left fuming after casual dress was banned – and the boys were told they must wear suits and ties while girls should choose skirts of a ‘sensible length’.

Like students at most schools, those at Felixstowe Academy have enjoyed the age-old dress-down tradition of moving into the sixth form to wear relaxing t-shirts and jeans after years of strict school uniform.

Under a new dress code though the 16 to 18 year olds have been told by new principal Anthony Williams that they will now be required to wear suits “to ensure their overall appearance is of a professional standard suitable to a business environment”.

The school believes the move is key to raising standards and will have an impact on the culture and ethos of the academy.

Felixstowe Academy, in High Road, Walton. Inset, head teacher Anthony WilliamsFelixstowe Academy, in High Road, Walton. Inset, head teacher Anthony Williams

Male students must wear:

• Suit or smart jacket and tailored trousers

• Shirt. Ties are desirable but not essential

Banned items

• T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, jumpers with large logos, denim jackets or biker-type leather jackets

• Shorts, dungarees, jeans, leggings, tracksuits

• Trainers, boots, canvas shoes or flip flops, coloured shoelaces

• No shaved heads, outlandish hairstyles or colours, facial hair, or patterns cut into hair or eyebrows

• Large earrings, nose or eye brow studs, or expensive or obtrusive jewellery

• Plain round or V-neck jumpers or waistcoats are permitted under the jacket

• Smart leather or leather-type shoes

While their female classmates should wear:

• Jacket with matching skirt, dress or full length tailored trousers

• Shirt or blouse with collar

• Plain round or V-neck jumpers or cardigans are permitted under the jacket

• Smart leather or leather-type shoes

Flip flops, large earrings, shaved heads and facial hair are all on the banned list.

Girls are expected to wear suits, full-length trousers or skirts with jackets and smart shoes.

But students and parents are shocked and angry about the situation – particularly the cost, which some have estimated at between £175 and £220. More than 500 have signed a Facebook petition.

They were also only told of the changes three days before the start of the new term, though the school has now extended the deadline until October.

One student, who asked not to be named, said: “When I first saw the letter I was so shocked! We had no pre warning that this was going to be sent to us.

“The rules were so strict considering there was no real structured uniform policy before.

“The fact that they gave us three days to buy completely new clothing was outrageous, especially because half the clothes they were expecting us to purchase are quite expensive.”

One parent said: “They should get their priorities right and think about student learning not what they wear, especially in sixth form.

“Sixth form is for young adults not kids – not all forms of employment require suits, so why should they be forced to wear them in school?”

Mr Williams said: “Our Sixth Form students will be an integral part of the positive changes within the academy.

“Whilst we are sensitive to the financial implication for some families and will offer support where possible, we need to promote a strong ethos that reflects our high aspirations and expectations for all students.

“I have experienced first hand, the significant impact that a smart dress code can have on the overall culture and ethos of a school. Needless to say, this has contributed to those schools becoming Outstanding.”


What do you think? Should sixth formers adopt a smarter dress code or should they be allowed to wear trainers and jeans to school?

Vote in our online poll or leave your comments below.

38 comments

  • Excellent points. Punishing the children for the sins of their parents by removing their education is bizarre at best.

    Report this comment

    MikeS

    Monday, September 14, 2015

  • I went to one of the best schools in Ipswich to do my A Levels. While there might have been a formal dress code, no-one took the blindest bit of notice of it. I came out with two 'Bs', and a 'C'. I then went to university for my BA and got a 2:1 with honours in my degree. I later did a Masters and got a Distinction at a university considered to be the Oxbridge of my particular subject. I now earn a very good salary and have a great career and we have dress-down Fridays in my current job. I'm also quite happy to be fully suited and booted when necessary - for example, when meeting important colleagues or guests. The idea that you can tell teenagers how to dress is frankly absurd and bears no resemblance to real life and treating people like adults.

    Report this comment

    IpswichExile

    Sunday, September 13, 2015

  • Shaved head not suitable ? What about the new heads head ? Dress code is a ridiculous idea !

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Sunday, September 13, 2015

  • I wore jeans to college. I ended up with 4 A-levels so it didn't seem to do me any harm. I didn't wear a suit at University either (oddly enough). Graduated with an honours degree in Computer Science. Now I'm here in the office in ¾ length trousers, sandals and geeky tee-shirt. No problem there either. We hire people based on ability, not fancy dress.

    Report this comment

    Jimbo

    Friday, September 11, 2015

  • I wore jeans when I was in the sixth form and it didn't do my education any harm. I only wear a suit at my graduations (five so far).

    Report this comment

    pf329

    Friday, September 11, 2015

  • It's very nice that a new "principal" - whatever that is supposed mean - wishes to make his mark and introduce some new ideas. But the academy is not a business environment it is an educational environment and clothes "suitable for a business environment" are simply inappropriate. Secondly, it is somewhat narrow-minded and contrived to assume that the suggested style of clothing the students are now expected to wear are suitable for a "business environment" anyway. A job interview, funeral or meeting the Queen - yes perfect - but not for the progressive, modern business world we live in today.

    Report this comment

    Mr L H Mitchell

    Thursday, September 10, 2015

  • Approach wrong, the standard is right. The photograph sums it all up, mobile devices and the the young people "do not get it" when they start work, whilst some organisations are happy with mobile devices, the majority are not.

    Report this comment

    Blue Boy

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • It seems most people adding comments are missing the real issue here which is the appalling communication. Whether you agree with a rule or not leaves you with a choice, stay, move on or try to change it to name but a few... in this case he has arrived and implemented major changes with no warning, moving the goal posts and giving a lot of parents no choice and in many cases causing them a financial burden. Additionally some kids are now missing their education because of his lack of notice and some parents either have to accept this and see their kids being excluded or risk losing their jobs by taking time off work to try and meet his rules. He's over stepped the mark and given not consideration to the consequences... this school has many flaws, and school uniform is perhaps the least of them as if further demonstrated by this and the consequential lack of respect he will earn because he has come in, in such a dictatorial manor and caused major problems for his customers i.e. pupils and parents. In any other service industry you would expect him to be receiving a written warning if not being sacked at this point for lack of customer service.

    Report this comment

    SimKJ

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • Do you not think that questioning authority is healthy?

    Report this comment

    angryoffelixstowe

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • I agree with postman pat...Some ridiculous comments on here especially the one about wearing jacket and trousers stops a student from being creative...what twaddle...kids succeed through attitude and aptitude and their rebellious parents are certainly showing them the wrong attitude !.

    Report this comment

    deeber

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • People should be backing the new Headmaster! At least he is trying to make a change for the good! The parents who are fighting this should be very ashamed of themselves, such a bad example for their children - rules are rules! Who are you to question them?!

    Report this comment

    Postman_Pat

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • In a county with some of the most appalling state education in the country, is all that Headteachers can do to improve standards is introduce subjective rules on how many pieces of Velcro constitute a 'trainer' and exclude pupils accordingly? Shocking. In my experience this is a common trick locally. In a failing school, the Head introduces a controversial policy with no notice or consultation in order to deflect attention from the real issues at the school.

    Report this comment

    paul e.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • My sons exspensive black leather clarks shoes have been banned for having two velcro strips (they apparently look like trainers...) only one velcro strip is allowed. I thought they were trying to eradicate bullying at school! Is the academy becoming a (no) boot camp?

    Report this comment

    angryoffelixstowe

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • At the very age we should be expecting our young people to expand their ways of thinking, question convention and define themselves through self expression, this guy wants to put them in a suit and tie. It's not about a standard of dress 'suitable for a business environment', that's no longer relevant for a huge proportion of the workforce. It's about control, conformity and a lack of creative teaching.

    Report this comment

    Nigel Noakes

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • The head talks of professionalism and in his recent radio interview went on to contradict himself over shaved heads. I think he has come in, having read the horrific OFSTED report and got the wrong end of the stick although, for the younger students at least, I believe the improvements in dress code were required, they just needed to be implemented in a professional manor and not in one that will alienate a large portion of parents who he should be aiming to get on side. The real issue at this school is his staff and their attendance, my daughter attends this school and in one term had over 30 substitute teachers alone… she is now in her most crucial year so far with exams at the end of it and if this year is anything like previous she will have major inconsistencies in teaching due to poor attendance and performance by his staff. Perhaps the professional approach to this would have been to get in, see what is going on and then act, right now he has made a lot people unhappy and only further effected the reputation of a poor school, which is in itself surprising given Felixstowe in a relatively affluent town. Perhaps this is more indicative of the previous incumbent in his position who seems to have a holier than thou approach to being head.

    Report this comment

    SimKJ

    Wednesday, September 9, 2015

  • "where does the 'smart clothing equals success' come from?" - Well that's an easy one! It's from some archaic idea that you need to dress good to be successful. Whilst there are jobs where you need to dress in a very neat way, most jobs don't really have that requirement anymore. To be honest, I have a general distrust of suits as most people wearing them seem to lie half the time (bankers, politicians and car salesmen I'm looking at you!) Either way, if this headmaster really thinks that forcing students to wear clothing that will make them feel restricted and uncomfortable (not to mention hit hard in the pocket) I should imagine you'll see a sharp decline in the number of students.

    Report this comment

    Chris Church

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • My sons shoes were suitable for two years,but not now,how ridiculous!! The school should be working to achieve a better standard of education for our children and improving its ofstead report from requires improvement. The children of felixstowe deserve better!!

    Report this comment

    crossmum

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • From the comments posted, it's evident that the priority should be to ensure that spelling and grammar are taught correctly! The student feedback in itself is appalling, but even the adults providing feedback cannot use "where" or "were" correctly. How do the students ever hope to secure employment without the most basic english? The head's aspiration to raise standards may just focus their minds to what employers expect of them, albeit rather ill-timed and poorly communicated.

    Report this comment

    Sd

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I notice Farlingaye's sixth form students don't have to go in wearing suits, though they do have a dress code - no holes in their clothes, no low-cut tops or extreme minisshorts for the girls. Their results are considerably better than Felixstowe Academy's, so where does the 'smart clothing equals success' come from?

    Report this comment

    clare0ntarget

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I go to felixstowe academy yeah the uniform is impossible literally too strict u get told off for not wearing black socks my friend got detention my friend keeps getting told off for taking her blazer off im not sixth form they should be able to wear what they and like boys why not facial hair its natural!!. Theres things about different coloured hair bobbles you cant have anything but black hair bobbles its silly we have no freedom anymore. Im fed up of it over 200 kids today were either sent home got detention or isolated personally i dont think this is fair

    Report this comment

    Hollister_Trouble Dinoraaaww

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • In my opinion sixth form should be an exciting time where a young person starts to branch out, not confined to the rules of an institution – this is where they learn to be adult, relate to teachers as adults. Where they learn that rights come with responsibility. This uniform policy undermines this valuable opportunity. To me it appears that the aim is to be deemed ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. Changing the uniform policy for sixth form is part of this plan, to attract more middle class students (the ones who catch a bus to a school in a different catchment area and who might buy into this),and who would improve grades overall. In the long term, will the Academy cherry pick the best students and encourage exclusivity? (As in the school local to us – we all know which one). When Felixstowe Academy is deemed ‘outstanding’, where will the GCSE grade C students of Felixstowe go? Not one step up the career ladder that’s for sure. There was no consultation over this, instead there has been an alarmingly dictatorial style rather than an inclusive one, indicating that it is a management style where it probably won't be the last time parents and pupils wishes, opinions and ideas are going to be run roughshod over. It shows bad judgement in its blatant disregard for the goodwill of the parents of Felixstowe. If this is going to be the tone of his leadership (or rather dictatorship), we all need to stick together as parents and carers.

    Report this comment

    Wendy Smuts

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • Sorry should be Suffolk New College, the Academy is no more!

    Report this comment

    Mike Gillingham

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • If a student elects to study at 6th form level in a school setting then it is not unreasonable to ask that they dress smart casual. That sets them apart from the non 6th formers but maintains a reasonable dress code. To demand suits is totally unreasonable and who can afford leather shoes!. If a student wants to study at 6th form with no dress requirements there are nowadays alternatives. Suffolk New Academy and Suffolk One for instance

    Report this comment

    Mike Gillingham

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I quite agree with your statement. I wore a suit when I was in sixth form. Not only did it mean there was no bullying for clothes worn by others as we were all dressed the same. I think it also helped with state of mind ie self esteem mad respect for themselves.

    Report this comment

    chelle 77

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I am pleased to see that the new headmaster has continued the previous tradition of last minute, ill considered communications. I presume that a similar dress code has been introduced for all the staff, to enable them to lead by example. I understand that pupils in the rest of the school are being 'isolated' for wearing shoes that were correct uniform last term, but are deemed incorrect this term, etc., and it is not just a Sixth Form purge that is going on!. I am afraid that the " poor pupil morale" and inferior academic results that have been achieved in the first year of this Academy cannot be turned around by the introduction of a strict, but divisive, Sixth Form "dress code". It requires consultation with parents and pupils, past and present, to find out what is wrong with the "overall culture and ethos" of this school and why "Outstanding" is still a long way off.

    Report this comment

    bkw

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I agree with defining a suitable working attire for sixth form students, however selecting the dull corporate uniform that only still exists in a few industries is just silly. I've worked in the arts design sector for the last 20 years (since leaving Felixstowe Sixth Form) and have worn a jacket about 5 times a year. First impressions in employment definitely count, but turning up to a job interview completely overdressed just emphasises your inexperience or lack of industry knowledge.

    Report this comment

    Dan Sloane

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • @Suffolk Exile - you've hit the nail squarely on the head. Don't remember the last meeting I attended with senior execs where a tie was worn. Or a suit, for that matter. And similar with my school 6th form. No uniform and I don't believe the results suffered for it. And remember, many 6th former will go on to Uni. and I certainly don't recall too many suits worn there.

    Report this comment

    paul e.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • It is just as common to where jeans as it is to wear a suit in business today. The changing work environment means that tele-commuting, floating work areas, drop in offices are all part of the business infra structure. Similarly our children can expect to see suits but no ties, jeans and T-shirts and everything in between in their work environment. This comes from industry learning to focus on what matters rather than what looks good. In the business world a new MD whose first act is to look at the dress code of an organisation would be viewed with derision and amusement. “Brains on seats” not “bums on seats”, goal orientated work rather than attendance based work. Yes it will look pretty, but there is no evidence that what the children wear changes the quality of the teaching or the resources available to the students.

    Report this comment

    mnsmuts

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • When all the sixth form students eventually enter into their deadend £14,000 a year jobs, what they were wearing as students isn't going to make any difference.

    Report this comment

    Happy

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • Bit of a PR own goal on he part of the head. Springing this upon students just before the start of term was stupid. How about a bit of consultation with prospective students? The head is quoted as saying that the students should be dressed "to a standard suitable to a business environment". But it's not a business environment, it's a school, an educational environment. The modern business environment has changed; those students going on to work in IT and the design sectors will most probably spend their working lives in jeans. Someone has commented that the students should hit the charity shops and get some 70s gear to demonstrate their feelings about this new policy. Most countries in Europe don't expect students to wear uniforms, and their results are much better than ours. For what it's worth I attended a large sixth form where we were allowed to wear pretty much we like. Results were very good and every year several students went to Oxbridge.

    Report this comment

    Suffolk Exile

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • While I don't doubt the good intentions of the new principal I feel he's shown a lack of foresight. Would it not have been better to consult with the students, ask their opinions on the subject? In asking for their input a good compromise could be reached and they'd feel more respected as the young adults they are. I think at the moment they just feel 'bulldozed'. Surely a key factor in most workplaces is teamwork & compromise - important values. Yes rules are necessary but sometimes a softer approach achieves much more. Involve your students Mr Williams, get their views...I'm sure they'll listen to you if they feel you're willing to listen to them!

    Report this comment

    K. Turner

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • If I was in that position, I'd buy a second hand jacket and trousers from a charity shop, then buy the loudest shirt and tie combination I could find.

    Report this comment

    JDermot

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • Forcing children to adopt a rigid dress code to influence their behaviour has been shown to work wonders, notably in germany circa 1933!

    Report this comment

    angryoffelixstowe

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • I don't see a problem with sixth form students being told to dress smart. When I attend sixth form many years ago there was a strict dress code. . Jeans etc where not allowed. Over the recent years the dress code has been allowed to drop to a terrible standard for the sixth form. Yes the parents should have been informed earlier of the changes but I think the head has the right ideas. Schools have to prepare our young adults for life after school and most jobs have dress codes whether it be a suit or uniform etc. I don't know some of these parents buy their kids clothes from saying it will cost £175\ £220 you can get some great suit and jackets etc from supermarkets at bargain prices and most are machine washable saving on the expensive dry cleaning bills.

    Report this comment

    Jacqueline Norlem

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • The principle of the idea is good and see no problem with a dress code - sixth formers still have a degree of choice - what is the problem is lack of forewarning to enable parents and students to be ready for these changes. A new head quite rightly wants to improve standards, and as a parent of an academy student that is reassuring, but relations with parents and students is also important. To spring this was ill timed and unfortunately upset many, which is a shame as the motives are good. A better approach would be to announce these changes for next September giving plenty of time for people to accept and afford the changes.

    Report this comment

    Carl Bushfire

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • 6th form is the one and only age group that should be suited and booted. These young people are preparing for the world of work, some high achievers may go off to start work at companies in the city where a smart and often expensive suit is a must. Unlike younger children, for whom uniform is all about making life easier for parents, older teenagers should be able to take pride and personalise a smart outfit. It needed be a drag but a good wardrobe investment.

    Report this comment

    Sentinel Red

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • Cause and effect... Correlation... Somewhere in the recesses of my mind I remember learning about these in sixth form economics. High achieving schools may have strict uniform policies however does adherence to uniform necessarily improve results? The changing of policy was badly timed. I hope the community gets over this lack of foresight and supports the new head in bringing about much needed improvements in the town's only high school.

    Report this comment

    Seasidemac

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

  • "But students and parents are shocked and angry about the situation – particularly the cost, which some have estimated at between £175 and £220." ASDA sell a complete suit for £30ish. Not going to be the best fit, but not going to break the bank either.

    Report this comment

    NeoGothic

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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