Militant uniform approach hardly peace and love - Argus Friday 7th September 2016

Posted Monday 12th September 2016   By Ericka Waller

SO my last child starts school on Monday. After nine years at home with children, I am finally going to be alone in the house all day. Any mothers reading this know I am torn between dancing the Can-Can at the idea of FREEDOM and crying my eyes out over baby photos and where time went.

My youngest is excited about ‘big school’. She thinks it will be an extension of Pre-School, where she rode her horse on a stick into the hall each day wearing a glittery blue dress, Red Riding Hood cape, slippers and no knickers.

So a school uniform has come as a bit of a shock. She thought I said she'd get a school unicorn, (imagine her disappointment). 

She is so gutted I’ve not broken the news that she will have to have her hair brushed daily, sit still in assembly and answer to her name when it’s called.  (My daughter has inherited her father’s selective deafness).

Thank god she is not going to Hartsdown Academy in Kent. The new Head  Matthew Tate, stood outside the gates on the first day of school and sent children home for not wearing the correct uniform.

I’m not talking flashing Lelli Kelli trainers. I’m talking public humiliation. A 12-year-old was sent home for having a skirt 1cm too short. An eight-year old boy was sent away for wearing trousers that had faded in the wash making them ‘the wrong colour’.

One ex-policeman parent had it out with the ‘Gestapo’ after his daughter was refused entry for wearing suede shoes. I do hope he quoted Elvis (“Look Mr Tate, you can burn my house, steal my car, drink my liquor from an old fruit jar. Do anything that you want to do, But uh uh honey lay off of them shoes”)

I’m not sure Tyrannical Tate would have found it funny. The father-of seven focused on 'grace and love' rather than punishing pupils in his previous role in Christian free school. Seems he changed his mythology when he changed jobs.

It’s not exactly peace and love is it. A 12-year-old wearing a 1cm too short skirt is safer in school than turned away to get home alone in public surely? And turning a boy away for having faded trousers… what if his parents could not afford new ones. I thought we were all the right colour in the eyes of the lord anyway?

Theology graduate Tate used to believe that 'Children are made in the image of God and are extremely special to him’. Now it seems every child must be made in Tate’s image, and if they don’t fit they get turned away, even if that means wandering about alone and unsupervised.

Surprisingly, his power-mad ‘No room in the Inn’ approach is being supported. 67% of Mail readers agree with Trunchball Tate’s take on teaching.

My children attend a Church of England school. Our headmaster can often be found at the gate. He’s not there to check on school shoes and skirt lengths however. He is there to welcome his pupils, chat to the parents (and stop me getting into rows with parents who park up the lane). 

And finally

The ‘walk of shame’ used to mean returning home in the clothes you went out in the night before after an evening of debauchery. It’s recently been reclaimed by Twitter users however. 

Their ‘REAL walks of shame' include

'Walking back to your friends after throwing a bowling ball and hitting nothing’,
‘Walking back to put the 5lb weights back and picking up lighter ones in the gym’,
'Having to walk and pick up your paper ball after missing the rubbish bin in a meeting’,
'Trying to walk on like nothing’s happened after waving to someone you don’t know’,
'When you go to pay for something and you don't have enough and you have to awkwardly put it back’, ‘Going to the recycling bin with 30 clanging bottles and your neighbour giving you the stink eye’, ‘Breaking into a run after tripping  up the pavement to make it look like you didn’t fall over’,
'Walking round the supermarket at the same pace as a stranger and bumping into them at the end of every row. You've already said an awkward hello twice...’
and ‘Realising you’ve gone out in your slippers’.

I recently had to walk back into the changing room after realising I still had my knickers on, over my swimming costume. That was quite embarrassing. While we were away, my mum was too busy looking at her hair in a reflective shop mirror to spot the boulder in front of her. 

She did a painful walk of shame back to the car, while we cried with laughter.

Anyway, I’d best get back to labelling school uniforms (I’ve bought a stamp and ink-pad, no sewing for me. What a slummy mummy I am eh) and polishing boots. I’ve been home for eight hours and already my holiday feels like years ago.