Crispin School, in Street, Somerset, shared a Facebook status on Thursday 24 November, which stated that “students achieving are wearing the correct footwear”.
“It has become apparent that those students with the strongest academic progress, those achieving in areas such as sport, music and the arts and those who have helped out and conducted themselves well around school are ‘sharply’ dressed,” the Facebook status read.
The status referenced the town’s links to the shoe manufacturer Clarks, as their head office is in Street.
“With a nod to Street’s history, we have particularly chosen to emphasise the link between success and footwear,” the status read.
The post sparked hundreds of comments of complaint from parents, who argued that it was disrespectful to students whose families were not able to afford nicer shoes.
“My kids wore shoes that could cope with a walk to and from school and could stand games at break time - they looked pretty grim,” one parent wrote.
“This sort of bald statement is frankly somewhat demoralising.”
Another wrote: “I must be missing something... how does a pair of shoes link to our brain? Never read so much rubbish.
“I completely understand why children wear uniform but some parents can’t afford the nicest shoes.
“I think you should be focusing on the more important things like enabling environments for children to thrive in their learning, not what shoes they are wearing.”
And one mum wrote: “This is shaming and bullying poor people. Disgraceful.”
Some parents agreed that taking care of appearances is important, with one writing: “Those who care about their appearance and follow some basic school rules are generally the ones who do better.
“Many of those in the ‘wrong’ footwear are likely to be wearing expensive, branded trainers rather than the proscribed school footwear.”
The school has since apologised for the Facebook post, but stands by its message.
In a statement given to the BBC, a spokesman for the school said: “The comments posted had nothing to do with disadvantage or money, and everything to do with the importance of students arriving at school well prepared and ready to learn.
“I apologise to anyone who was upset in any way.”
HuffPost UK has contacted the school for further comment and will update this article upon their response.