Saturday, June 19, 2010

Daily Mail: School head orders children to remove their shoes so the new carpets don't get dirty

Daily Mail: School head orders children to remove their shoes so the new carpets don't get dirty

"A school has ordered pupils to wear slippers 'or plastic bags' in class... to save spoiling their new carpets.
Some 200 primary school pupils are having to put on shoes and take them off up to eight times a day.
And angry parents, who have had to buy extra pairs of shoes to conform with the new rules, say valuable education and play time is being lost. They have also expressed safety concerns in the event of a fire.
A Facebook group has now been set up in protest by parents who have also written to headteacher Sue Ryall calling for her to scrap the policy."

Those of you who live in Finland will think it absolutely bizarre that this made it into a national newspaper. In the enlightened land of a thousand lakes, school pupils normally wear just socks in the classroom.

As it happens, it surprises me that it made the newspapers. It has become quite common for a lot of primary schools to require pupils to change into pumps when indoors. I went to one when I was very small. So far most of the comments on this article support the head's decision.

I find it interesting that a registered childminder is quoted as objecting to this; Ofsted encourages registered childminders to make their homes shoe-free.

This article was pointed out to me by a kind reader. I can't read every newspaper. If you ever see anything relevant, please let me know.


richyrich said...

It's encouraging that most of the online posts in response to this story are supportive of the head teacher. I think I've said on here before that when I was in primary school, if our shoes were dirty from playing outside, we had to take them off when we got into the classroom. Sometimes the teacher would check all of our shoes before we got into the class and made an instant judgement as to whether they were clean enough. If they weren't they had to come off straight away, no argument! If we had brought indoor pumps with us we would change into those but if we didn't have any with us, we'd just have to stay in our socks for the rest of the day. I won't pretend that everyone always liked being ordered by the teacher to take off their shoes but we all thought that it was a perfectly fair and reasonable rule and I'm not aware that any parents ever complained about it either.

Moderate Mouse said...

In the article on parent expressed the following concern:

'What happens when there is a fire, or even a practice alarm? Are the pupils going to have to stop to change their shoes to go outside?'

I was going to leave a comment expressing the same concern, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that since I neither have any business calling me to that school nor have anyone in my life that does, it's really none of my business and that it's just best to assume that the school is able to somehow properly maintain the policy on the shoes even when/if fire drills are at any point done. (I especially couldn't have left the comment that I was tempted to if I were to live up to my belief in being more concerned about one's own behavior than that of anyone else's.)

Moderate Mouse said...

If any part of my last comment came across as snooty or rude, I apologize.

Celestial Fundy said...

MM, in this school at least, the pupils are required to wear substitute indoor footwear.

If this was the case, I don't think it would be such a problem as you suggest.

Assuming in the fire evacuation that the pupils had not time to put their shoes on, they could always go outside in socks. I don't think that would present a serious hazard. If there is broken glass on a school playground, the school has some serious problems.

Sandro said...

Princes Victoria of Sweden has married a fitness instructor. As the shoes-off policy is likely not practised by Sweden's upper layers (though I read the opposite comments as well), It's interesting if the shoes-off issue has ever appeared in their relations.

Kev said...

I recall at my Surrey primary school in the early '70s, probably around the time everyone was cutting back on everything, there was a policy introduced whereby pupils were expected to have shoe bags and change into plimsolls indoors.

There was always a family who couldn't or wouldn't provide such, and as a result their children tended to be looked down on by their peers but they were allowed to remain in outdoor shoes: the bottom line being if 95% conformed then it was still an effective measure.

Of course, no such rule applied to staff

Celestial Fundy said...

I think the most notable thing about this school in Dorset is that the rule is applied to staff and visitors. That is a move forwards.

Kev said...

Interesting that it's very much in my neck of the woods too.

The story seems in danger of sweeping through the news like virus as I noticed the Telegraph site also was running it last night; most encouraging is that, beyond the lack of wisdom employed in carpetting a primary school in the first place, the over whelming public opinion is that Blandford parents are a singularly weird bunch!

richyrich said...

With the impending cuts in public expenditure, we may see more schools adopting this rule in order to save on cleaning costs and making their flooring last longer. David Cameron said that the necessary measures to cut spending would affect our whole way of life for years and possibly decades to come. This could be one of those effects, although I would doubt if the Prime Minister had that in mind, in spite of Matthew's e-mail to him some months ago!

Celestial Fundy said...

With respect to you, Kev, I think a lot of people are too quick too ridicule the idea of carpetting a school.

Carpets have two advantages in schools- less risk of injury and they reduce noise levels.

A carpetted school is going too be a much quiter environment.

Celestial Fundy said...

Good thinking, Rich.

Kev said...

The safety aspect is a matter of risk assessment v cost. Apart frem wear and tear schools don't wish to be sued, but then again, we shouldn't wrap out children in cotton-wool.

As for noise: the entire Internet seems to be shouting as one, "plimsolls". And very cheap they are too.

On balance, carpets are a luxury item (soon to be costing more*)and this is a time of austerity. Rich puts the good case that, as far as I am aware, always used to be the case in more practical times.

* Interesting article here:

Celestial Fundy said...

Plimsolls are certainly an option.

Still, if Finnish pupils can get by in socks, I don't see why it is such a problem for British children.

Kev said...

Agreed. But we British always like to consider ourselves superior to Johnny Foreigner it still seems.

The folk of Blandford seem a typical Daily Mail microcosm.

PS - I would have posted the link in response to your latest article had I noticed it before.