UK School’s Footwear Policy Sparks Outrage

The Taverham High School in Norfolk, England sent students home for failing to meet the school's dress code policy that requires "workplace" like attire.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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American families aren’t alone in their woes over outrageous spending on school supplies. Rising inflation and the cost of living have created economic issues all across the United Kingdom as well, causing more struggles over school budgets across the pond. Depicting how similar these issues are for UK parents, a dress code policy ruled outlandish by parents at a school in Norfolk, England has sparked outrage.

According to a report from the Norwich Evening News, students attending the Taverham High school in Norfolk were sent home last week on the first day of school for not following the school’s dress code policy on footwear. Last June, the school’s headteacher, Dr. Roger Harris, alerted parents of the changes to the footwear policy via an email. The updated policy required students to purchase their own black shoes that were to be“appropriate for the workplace.” 

Parents quickly responded to the news, ridiculing the school for punishing students that didn’t follow what was coined as an unfair dress code. One father said he could understand this kind of discipline had his daughter shown up wearing stilettos. But many of the children sent home were just wearing shoes that the school deemed inappropriate because they were inexpensive. 

One parent told the local news outlet that after her child was sent home, she had no other choice than to go to her parents to ask for financial aid in affording the proper footwear to appease the school and its dress code. Another mom lamented how reluctant she is to go purchase new shoes but asserted she will since she doesn’t want her son to miss out on his education. Another father lambasted the school on social media, ridiculing the school for not allowing children “to be comfortable” while in the classroom.

While many would argue that a school setting is far different from the workplace, the school held strict to their updated dress code, and about 30 students were sent home last Tuesday for not meeting the footwear requirements. Instead of sending out first-offense notices to their parents, the children were punished by being expelled from school until they acquired appropriate footwear. Headteacher Harris said the school decided to be strict about this new ruling because they believe it would improve children’s academic success. 

This has long been the notion regarding strict dress code policies which often require students to purchase their own school uniforms. But do these uniforms really improve outcomes? According to one recent study, no. A study conducted by Ohio State University last December concluded that school uniforms have little to no effect on children’s behavior or success. 

dress code

On top of the outrage over the footwear dress code, parents appeared upset because of the fact that they are already required to shell out money to buy both mandatory school uniforms on top of their children’s everyday attire needs. One 2020 study found that the average family in the UK spends about £337 ($387) each year on school uniforms. Just like in the states, British families are struggling to keep up with these demands as inflation soars and the economy is in peril. 

As American families criticize the rising costs of living and school supplies, upset parents can look to the UK for a reminder that the issue is burdening families all across the globe. Though it may not make matters any better, it serves as a reminder that the situation could always be worse. Most U.S. schools don’t require school uniforms, let alone restrictive dress code policies like those at Taverham high.