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Is It Really Too Much to Ask Parents to Wear Suitable Clothes to School?

27/01/2016 10:19 GMT | Updated 26/01/2017 10:12 GMT

I was shocked (and not much shocks me!) to hear and read in the news yesterday that a Headteacher wrote to parents asking them to wear weather appropriate clothes, not pyjamas and slippers, to school.

Is this really a thing? Are parents really turning up, at the school gates in the mornings, as well as for assemblies, parents' evenings and other school meetings, in their pyjamas? What kind of example does this set for the children?

According to the BBC, Headteacher Kate Chisholm, of Skerne Park Academy, Darlington, said she had noticed a growing trend of adults turning up in pyjamas and slippers and that she was keen to raise standards and get better outcomes for the children.

As a former teacher who now works with schools on a regular basis, I know and see how hard teachers work to ensure children get the best possible education and are not just taught but nurtured and cared for in the school environment. Teachers have a tough job to do with very limited and ever-dwindling resources. Parents are often quick to criticise when they feel a teacher or a school is not doing their job properly.

What about parental responsibility though? When did it become OK to abdicate the responsibility for raising your children? What happened to setting an example?

I know this is turning into a bit of a rant, but really? Come on, people! Whatever happened to common sense?

It is heartening to read in the news article that Ms Chisholm has had more support than criticism, with other parents and local residents backing her.

After first hearing about this story on the radio in the car, I came home and googled it to get the full story and oh my goodness!

It turns out this isn't a new 'thing' at all!

Headteacher Chris Wain of Pallister Park Primary school in Middlesbrough made a similar appeal to parents in 2011. As long ago as 2007, the Principal of a Northern Ireland primary school faced the same issue. This worrying behaviour is also not limited to schools; a social welfare office in Dublin put up a sign banning pyjamas in 2012.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think the discipline to get up, get washed and get dressed in the morning is an important one. Everyone is entitled to pyjama days - at home! - but why would you want to embarrass yourself and your child by turning up at school in your nightwear?

Anyone turning up to a welfare office for jobseeker interviews without bothering to get dressed should not, in my opinion, be getting benefits as they are not demonstrating any kind of willingness to make an effort to get a job.

You wouldn't go to a job interview or to work in your pyjamas (well, you may do it once, but you wouldn't have a job for long!). Actually, I must say, in the interest of transparency, that photos exist of me, in my pyjamas, fluffy dressing gown and slippers in my office in a previous job many years ago! This was, however, a day we all went in dressed like that to satisfy the request of a colleague on their last day with the company. And yes, we did get some very strange looks from delivery personnel and anyone else coming into the office that day! We were also, interestingly, not as productive as usual, distracted as we were by our unusual attire.

So I say 'Bravo!' to Ms Chisholm and shame on you if you are going to school meetings in your nightwear. Get washed and put some clothes on!

What do you think? Is Ms Chisholm (and am I) over-reacting?

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