Gillespie’s pupils vote against uniform approach

S4 pupils Ruadhan McCluskey, Heidi Steel, Leigh Gallacher and Dawson Silkenat 'keep it casual. Picture: Neil Hanna
S4 pupils Ruadhan McCluskey, Heidi Steel, Leigh Gallacher and Dawson Silkenat 'keep it casual. Picture: Neil Hanna
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PUPILS at one of the Capital’s top state schools have overwhelmingly voted to keep their dress code casual.

James Gillespie’s High School – made famous as the home of Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – was considering introducing a uniform for the first time in almost 30 years ahead of their move to a new campus next year.

There is actually no evidence that wearing a uniform leads to better performances

Donald Macdonald

But the plans have been scrapped after a survey of pupils, staff and parents found the majority backed keeping things as they are.

The poll, which was carried out over the summer and recieved an impressive 1867 responses, gave four different options – no change to the dress code, a uniform of polo shirt and sweatshirt, a uniform of blazer and tie, or no preference.

Headteacher Donald Macdonald said there had been a “huge response” to the consultation among the school community.

He said: “What I was determined to do was first of all give everybody a voice, but also not to favour one group over another.

“That was important in previous schools where I’ve been tasked with introducing a uniform. But James Gillespie’s was different, in that it hasn’t had a uniform since the early-90s.

“As many parents commented, there is actually no evidence that wearing a uniform leads to better outcomes or better performances from youngsters. There was a strong consensus that emerged that very much what was favoured across the community was the current situation, with some provisions.”

More than 60 per cent of youngsters rejected the idea of introducing a school uniform – but a sizeable minority of just over a fifth favoured blazers and ties. Less than ten per cent wanted polo shirts brought in.

The school’s youngest pupils were the most supportive of the school’s distinctive non-uniform rule – with almost 80 per cent of S1 voting to keep things as they are. A more modest 60 per cent of S6 pupils, meanwhile, wanted to keep the non-uniform policy, while around 25 per cent favoured a blazer and tie. None wanted polo shirts introduced.

Staff also favoured the status quo, along with parents with secondary-aged children at the school. But parents with youngsters in the last three years of an associated primary school backed polo shirts.

The poll results were read and analysed by headteacher Donald Macdonald and his senior team.

An e-mail sent out to parents yesterday morning read: “Following the recent consultation on school dress code/uniform it has been decided that the current arrangements will continue. Over the coming months the wording in the current policy will be revised so that everyone is clearer as to what is deemed to be acceptable.”

Cath Downie, chair of James Gillespie’s parent council, said the survey had arrived at a “positive decision for positive reasons”.

She said: “I think the whole school community has been consulted and this is the decision that’s been reached. The current situation works quite well. I think it just makes for a relaxed atmosphere of respect. It’s not a sort of ‘them and us’ thing. We are all part of this community.

“I think the concerns that parents have before their kids are at the school – ‘Is it going to be this big fashion competition,’ and things like that – there is absolutely none of that.”

Next year’s move to the school’s new buildings is part of a £42.8 million redevelopment that includes new teaching blocks and a sports pitch.

alistair.grant@jpress.co.uk