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Parents row with West Midlands school featured on TV behaviour documentary over trousers

Gabrielle McGowan wearing previously allowed stretch trouser at Beacon Hill Academy
Gabrielle McGowan wearing previously allowed stretch trouser at Beacon Hill Academy

A school which featured on a BBC behaviour documentary has been blasted by fuming parents - in a row over trousers.

Female pupils at Beacon Hill Academy have been told their trousers can’t be made of "stretch" material. The school in Dudley, West Midlands, says this is to uphold standards - but some parents disagree. The quarrel began last week when a letter was given to some girls judged to have fallen foul of the uniform policy.

They were given a grace period but, when that ended, the school is alleged to have taken further action - angering parents. It’s claimed some pupils who continued to wear the "stretch" trousers were given isolation, meaning they missed lessons.

Jo Farley (right) and Gabrielle McGowan
Jo Farley (right) and Gabrielle McGowan

Beacon Hill Academy previously appeared on BBC Two’s Helping Our Teens documentary. An expert was introduced to the school to help reduce undesirable behaviour.

Mum Jo Farley, 51, says there has never been an issue with the "stretch" trousers before. Her daughter, Gabrielle, 15, wore a pair to school at the start of term.

Jo, from Dudley, said: “The stretch trousers have been worn by girls for the last three to five years and there has never been an issue. There was chaos at reception as many parents became aware and went to collect their children from the school [The parents] all feel our girls at this age with puberty and periods should be comfortable in school wear.

“There are so many children with mental health issues, and this is having such an effect on them, it’s not fair. The school is not supporting our teens – there are year 10 and 11 students missing out on what they should be learning in their final years of education based on trousers.”

Beacon Hill Academy
Beacon Hill Academy

Jo said the issues began on the first day of term when teachers handed out letters at the gates informing pupils about the uniform policy. They were given a grace period until Monday (September 11) to resolve the issue – but many of the students arrived in the same stretch trousers. Those in the wrong uniform were moved away from lessons to a drama classroom, it is claimed.

Jo said: "Yesterday the majority of the girls all went back in same trousers they’ve always been wearing to school - and were sent to the drama studio."

Fellow parent Elizabeth Moore, 37, also from Dudley, claimed around 30 parents turned up to the gates on Monday as the row escalated. She said: "My husband was there was on Monday and said about 30 other parents were there at about 9am. He knows a few of them and said they were all there for the same reason - because of the uniform issue. I asked if he could go and pick Eva up so he went to the school. We spoke when he got back and he said as he was leaving with Eva there more people turning up."

A spokesperson for Beacon Hill Academy said: "Beacon Hill Academy is committed to upholding the highest standards through the vigorous pursuit of high expectations. At the beginning of the school year, it is important to achieve high levels of consistency across a whole range of measures, including uniform.

"This ensures that we operate a disciplined, safe and highly productive learning environment, enabling learners to flourish at our oversubscribed Academy. Our expectations with regards to uniform have been made clear to both learners and parents/carers prior to the summer break, throughout the holiday via various channels and again during this term where the academy offered a further period of grace to support resolution.

"Our commitment to our high standards is unwavering, as is the support which we offer to families who may require financial assistance. It is a Dudley Academies Trust policy to support learners. All our year 7 learners are gifted a blazer and tie on joining Dudley Academies Trust.

"Furthermore, we believe that having high levels of consistency with ‘uniform’ is central to a thriving school, importantly securing an environment which supports learner mental health, creating a sense of belonging and reducing social pressures. Uniform which adheres to our policy creates a sense of equality and unity amongst learners helping to mitigate peer pressure related to clothing choices and in doing so, we strive to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment."