Havering’s Academies and Community Governors

Havering’s secondary academies’ policies on school uniform and personal appearance are virtually identical. It’s as if they collaborate in an institutional Group Think. Their decision-making is embedded in collective unchallenged beliefs. No academy has councillors, parents or teachers as governors. School uniform and personal appearance policies don’t enhance educational achievement. This emphasises that the academies’ approach to micro-managing students is bizarre.

In October 2022 this blog discussed coloured shoelaces,1 which are uniformly banned. Wearing coloured shoelaces can result in students being excluded from lessons. Hairstyle conformity is also an important ‘appearance’ policy.2 Schools seem unaware some ‘extreme’ hairstyles are legal and can’t be banned because of their racial context.

Race-based hair discrimination has been illegal in the UK since the Equalities Act became law in 2010 but the Halo Collective says it is still a really big problem.

A recent survey said 46% of parents say their children’s school uniform policy penalises afro-hair.3

In 2020 a Hackney student took her school to court because of the enforcement of a hairstyle policy. She won her case.

A pupil who was repeatedly sent home from school because of her afro hair wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to any other UK schoolchild.

Ruby Williams received £8,500 in an out-of-court settlement after her family took legal action against The Urswick School in east London .4

Excluding the community alienates the principal stakeholders. It’s difficult to believe legal Afro hairstyles are permitted in Havering’s academies for example.2 Community involvement challenges extremist Group Think policies, which have no educational purpose. Academies are in an intellectual cul de sac in relation to school uniform and appearance codes.


1 Havering’s Academies: School Shoes and Shoe Laces – Politics in Havering

2 This is typical: “It will be for the Headteacher to decide if a hairstyle is “extreme”. It is difficult to definitively set out in advance what will be regarded as an “extreme hairstyle” as styles vary regularly according to fashion. Students are therefore expected to speak to their Head of Year before they alter their hairstyle or dye their hair to obtain confirmation that the proposed new hairstyle will comply with this policy.” Year-7_11_September-2021.pdf (cooperscoborn.org.uk) This can be summarised as, ‘If we don’t like it, you can’t have it.’ Compare Uniform-Expectations-September-2021.pdf (bowerpark.co.uk) And FBA-uniform-policy-June-2020-r-1.pdf (fbaok.co.uk) Frances Bardsley The other 15 Havering academies cluster in the same territory.

3 Halo Code: What is it and how does it protect afro hair? – CBBC Newsround 10th December 2020
4 Ruby Williams: No child with afro hair should suffer like me – BBC News 10th February 2020

Havering’s Academies: School Shoes and Shoe Laces

Havering’s academies have an aversion to trainers and coloured shoe laces, which is pathologically irrational. School shoe and shoe lace policies are enforced as though they’re crucial to learning and achievement.

Abbs Cross Academy

“A plain design, no trimmings, no logos, no decorative buckles, no coloured laces or stitching, no labels, no tags, or other decorations.”1

Brittons Academy

 “No Vans, trainers or pumps, plain black Kickers with no colour stitching or laces are allowed.”

[A breach that] cannot be rectified immediately, internal isolation may be imposed for the remainder of that school day or break and lunchtime, or until the student has a break in which they can safely return home to rectify the breach.” (my emphasis)2

Campion Academy

“Shoes for both boys and girls should be plain black and leather style material.”3 (my emphasis)

Redden Court Academy

“Plain black leather shoes with no decoration.  Black laces only.  No trainers, plimsolls or canvas type shoes.”4

St Edwards Church of England Academy

“Plain black office type shoes (NO boots, plimsolls or trainers).”5 (my emphasis)

There are 18 academies in Havering and all five academies analysed have specific policies about shoes and shoe laces.6 That professional educators have policies about shoes and shoe laces is barking mad. Needless to relate there’s no connexion between shoes, shoe laces and educational achievement. And you don’t need a degree to know that.


1 Uniform – Abbs Cross Academy

2 Uniform – The Brittons Academy This is a typical statement about infringements of school uniform policy.

3 Home (thecampionschool.org.uk)

4 Redden Court School – School Uniform (reddencourtcloud.co.uk)

Havering Education: Abbs Cross School Behaviour Policy 2017-9

Abbs Cross school behaviour policy is defensive. What’s demonstrated is a tragic wasted opportunity for having a positive rewards policy embedded within its behaviour policy. This would be alongside and carrying equal weight to the rule directed policy presently existing. Abbs Cross has had a good Ofsted (see addendum two), which provides a platform to build on now that they’ve put their ‘inadequate’ status behind them.

The Behaviour Policy of Abbs Cross school runs to eight pages.1

The Aims (p2) include:

To promote Student Voice in regard to Behaviour for Learning expectations and Rewards (bullet point 6: my emphasis).

The Statement of General Principles (pp2-3) has 20 statements only one of which is a token nod at rewards-
Will support, praise and as appropriate reward students’ behaviour.
There’s lavish detail on control but the positive side of motivation is absent. This is counter-intuitive as students react well to rewards whereas punishment can create resentment and further disruptive behaviour.

The negative tone extends to parents/carers. Student and parental misconduct is highlighted (pp2-3) along with indicated draconian action.2 Later (p6) parents/carers who bring drugs, alcohol and weapons are reminded that this is against school rules. School rules aren’t being broken: laws are being broken.

Under the heading General Expectations(p6) there are 17 descriptive statements (addendum one). At first glance they wouldn’t be out of place in a Victorian factory or prison. They’re prescriptive and, in many respects, petty. They can also be repetitive – compare point 2 in ‘General Expectations’ and point 5 in ‘Students are expected.’

The Ofsted Report, September 2017, (see addendum two) is quite clear that the school is doing well in regard to behaviour. Doubtless the ‘Inadequate’ status was bruising but it’s time for the school to move on. The Behaviour Policy should be reviewed making it more effective so that the elusive ‘outstanding’ status is achieved.

Addendum one: General Expectations

Be punctual to school and to all lessons
Be smart in appearance and in full correct uniform
Be prepared and fully equipped for all lessons including bringing PE kit when needed
Be responsible for the school environment
Be safe
Be kind, polite and careful
Be motivated to learn
Be respectful

Students are expected:

To arrive at school by on time with the correct books and equipment for the day
To respect others and their property
To respect the building and grounds
To follow directions
To wear correct school uniform as outlined in the schools Uniform policy
To move around the school on the left in an orderly manner
To carry their diary with them and to use it appropriately
To complete homework and hand it in on time
To stay healthy

Addendum two: Ofsted Report3


The behaviour of pupils is good.

Leaders have done much to improve behaviour and their hard work has paid off. Pupils’ behaviour in lessons and around the school is consistently good. Behaviour is especially strong when pupils move between lessons where they walk calmly from one classroom to another. Similarly, pupils behave well during break and lunchtimes. As a result, there is very little disruption around the school and pupils get to their lessons on time. Pupils are polite and courteous and relationships between pupils and staff are respectful. This ensures that there is a positive climate right across the school that encourages learning.

Pupils are clear that bullying is rare and that it hardly ever happens. They confirm that behaviour has improved in the last few years and that bullying is no longer a problem. However, pupils are confident that if there was any bullying it would be dealt with effectively by teachers and leaders.

Procedures to check pupils’ attendance and follow up absence are secure. The reorganisation of the pastoral care system has helped to ensure that these procedures work effectively. As a result, attendance has improved and is in line with other schools in England.

1 http://www.abbscross.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Behaviour-Policy-DUE-SPRING-2019.pdf

2 http://www.loxfordschooltrust.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Exclusions-Statement-March-2019.pdf

3 https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/2730969