Students are allowed to bundle up during the winter, but only if they do so cheaply, says a high school in northwestern England.
The school sent a letter to parents in early November warning them that expensive coats would no longer be allowed. The headteacher of Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead said the ban would take effect after Christmas and the school was “mindful that some young people put pressure on their parents to purchase expensive items of clothing,” according to CNN.
The coats being banned are from Canada Goose and Moncler, brands that sell jackets that can cost well over $1,000.
“These coats cause a lot of inequality between our pupils,” headteacher Rebekah Phillips told CNN. “They stigmatize students and parents who are less well-off and struggle financially.”
Phillips claimed that students have told her the cost of such coats is the same as their parents’ rent payments.
“There has been feedback from children, who say ‘Gosh, that is our rent for the month,'” Phillips said.
Phillips also said her plan to “poverty-proof” the school was well received by the students, saying one student wrote to her suggesting school shouldn’t be a place where a student’s “economic background is rubbed in their faces and distracts them from learning.”
Bullying prevention could have cut back on that instead of forcing rich kids to be colder.
One parent, Andy Treanor, told CNN the ban “did not matter” to him since “he would not spend that much on a coat” for his daughter.
CNN also reported that 46% of the students at Woodchurch are disadvantaged, and the school has implemented other measures to “prevent social inequality from affecting children’s performance.”
Two years ago, it introduced a compulsory school bag to reduce costs, after parents complained that their children were demanding branded rucksacks,” CNN reported. “The school has also cut down non-uniform days — days when students can wear their own choice of clothes to school — to once a year, after complaints of children ‘being put down’ for the clothes they wore, the headteacher added.”
The school also provides free sanitary products to female students.
Other schools in England are also trying to help low-income students by “banning expensive pencil cases and discouraging primary school teachers from asking students what they did on the weekend, so children whose families couldn’t afford to do anything wouldn’t feel embarrassed,” CNN reported.
Supporters of the poverty-proofing initiatives claim low-income students are showing better attendance and that there is less bullying related to inequality.