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Hi Linda Smith,
Slightly off topic:
I am no doctor but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that shoes with even a slight heel (even the ones worn by men and boys) are causing huge problems with lower back pain.
After evolving for 100,000 years to run around with bare feet I would disagree with anyone who suggests that flat bottom shoes are bad for you, in fact I would challenge their argument on the basis of evolution and the fact that shoes/trainers are damaging.
I have flat feet played rugby for years, trained in martial arts for 20 years (bare footed) and was never given orthotics for my shoes but given foot exercises to strengthen the muscles.
Labelling anyone is a prejudice and children especially do not have the reasoning power or experience to not start pointing fingers and maybe bullying. Being different is ok because we all have our disabilities in life.
School uniforms were introduced as a supposed social class 'leveller'; a kind of watered down version of Mao's 'pyjamas', I guess. Badges highlighting personal medical problems would surely serve the opposite, albeit in a non-class distinctive way.
It would seem to me that the objection to ballet style shoes in this case is more about suppression of individual expression (or fashion statements) rather than a legitimate H&S issue, as hinted. H&S once again utilised as trojan horse.
Back in the late 70's my old Grammar school outright banned the wearing of Doc Martens as unsuitable school footwear(!) whilst ignoring the outgoing (ie established) trend of precarious platforms, but the wearing of trainers was punishable by death (Ok slight exaggeration - you'd be sent home, same if you had no top button).
I had flat feet and had to wear corrective orthopaedic inserts. I also had a benign arthritic condition, so I guess I would have had two badges. Sorry, but I can't help but think of cloth yellow stars sewn on jackets.
I'm with Louise on this - if it is to become policy then an Equality Impact assessment is required.
In addition to this my initial thoughts are who on earth is making the decission that black plimsoles are suitable for all - and as for the badging of the children then why not go the whole hog and paint their poor little heads purple!!!
Rant over :(
Nigel, I would ask the school if they have carried out an equality analysis prior to introducing this policy. If they have not - and if they are an educational establishment covered by the Public Sector Duty (Equality Act 2010) then you could arguen they are not complying with that duty because of the fact that children with particular disabilities are at risk of being 'exposed' by the policy. The Duty requires schools under its aegis to protect disabled children from discrimination and promote equality of opportunity.
@John Manders - I don't think anyone is complaining about the school identifying children with medical problems or allowing them to wear more suitable footwear, i.e. trainers or even the insistence that these trainers are black, it's the big, red badge stuck to those children marking them out as 'different' that appears to be the bone of contention.
Fairly sure this coudl amount to harassment under the Equality Act.
The responsible body of a school must not harass a pupil or any person who has applied for admission as a pupil or any person who has been a pupil.
Harassment for these purposes is defined as ‘unwanted conduct which is related to a person’s race, sex, or disability and which has the purpose or effect of violating that person’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person being harassed’.
There are 2 issues here, the shoes and identifying children with medical issues.
Ballet style shoes as worn by school children do offer little protection against almost anything. As Elizabeth says, many are little better than slippers. They wear quickly and come loose. I can see why the school does not like them.
As for identifying children with medical problems, what is the school supposed to do, force them into unsuitable shoes against medical advice? The law requires the school to make reasonable adjustments and that’s exactly what they’ve done.
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It has been said by orthopaedic doctors for some time that ballet shoes can cause problems as they are too flat & tend to be loose needing tension of the foot to hold in place.
Another question entirely in terms of the red medical badge. It reminds me of the WW2 & the persecution of the Jews. Don't kids get enough bullying without the school marking targets for them. I assume they make asthma sufferers, epileptic students & those with veruccas wear a badge too. If my child went to this school I would move them even if I had to drive them 20 miles to the next school.
I must agree with the ballet shoes which are no better than slippers. I think that is a reasonable request for school uniform.
I definitely don't agree with having to wear a medical badge . That is singling people out, treating them differently and humiliating them in the process.
This is definitely a step to far.
Integration comes to mind!
Also I am interested to see who has the necessary qualifications to suggest that they have studied ballet style shoes and deemed them inappropriate.
And exceptional circumstances??? What if you have a plaster cast have you got to paint that black?
I love it, welcome to wonderland Alice.
No Will - this is absolutely as sent in the letter to all parents.
I have no knowledge of the legal implications at all. I'd like to think such a practice is absolutely illegal but my initial reaction is one of absolute horror. Have I read this right? The school wants to badge children that have "a clear medical condition"? Oh my God! As a parent I would withdraw my child immediately if a school tried that. Are you sure this isn't some kind 'The Day Today' sick parody?
I would be interested in members feedback and comments on the following situation.
I am safety consultant to a school that has a particularly strict school uniform policy however I believe they may have overstepped the mark with their latest policy change.
One element of the policy concerns shoes. The following passage is a quote from the new policy.
Ballet style shoes offer little protection and wear very quickly, so these are not appropriate for school. The school would also like to remind parents that in exceptional circumstances, where there is a clear medical condition that prevents normal school shoes from being worn, only plain black trainers can be used. Such cases will have been agreed with the Head of Year, and students will be required to wear a red medical badge.
I am sure this must contravene some sort of disability/discrimination/data protection issue however my speciality is pure health & safety, so I would be interested if anyone else has come across this type of situation before.
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