2007 school uniform policy, and where to from here
By now, most people will have received their reports and, with it, a description of the Board’s decision on the 2007 school uniform policy. The observant will have noticed that year thirteen students will not be bound by the new regulations regarding lace-up shoes; the less able will be reading about it here and now; the remaining will not know and, therefore, be led to buy new lace-up shoes over the summer to find out next year that they didn’t need to. Hopefully, the third class will not exist, but with a handful of people not signing out or throwing away their reports as soon as they receive it, it’s probably an inevitability. Whoops, getting sidetracked.
This issue occupied my mind for much of the two months between the September and November board meetings, and the forming and abandoning of many tactics—I lost count—and ended in a prepared, extended argument for why the changes are unwise and a consultation is the better option, speaking for the few who care and understand rather than the school as a whole, and asking for a little bit more than I expected. It partially worked in that I got somewhere.
I have, therefore, accomplished something in my first two-and-a-half months as student trustee, though I fear that my efforts will go largely unnoticed, taken for granted, perhaps; and come the 2007 school year, completely forgotten. Except by the year twelves, who will continue to complain about how year thirteens were granted the privilege but not year twelves. It is something characteristic of jobs like this. If you succeed, no-one notices; if you fail, you’re the world’s most wanted. I suppose it’s better than being a politician, where you get criticised regardless of whether you succeed or fail.
Specifically, for year thirteens, it will be the end of it. I hope that the year thirteens will understand that this is an opportunity for the old rule to be retained for those below us, though I know they won’t care about anyone other than themselves. A large share of the future of the rule rests on the year thirteens’ shoulders, for they can show the board and management what it means and why it’s feasible: will they be kind enough to lend their support to the year twelves? Or will they fall into the “that’s all that matters” bin, blindly ignoring efforts by their inferiors to save the non-lace-ups rule?
This is not the end of it. When the Board decided on the regulations for 2007, they also agreed that the shoes policy would be reviewed and a proposal made by the student council next year. I am therefore relying on the co-operation of the student council too, and I knew this in full when I told Board members that the students would like a chance to write the rule themselves, but I didn’t say that. Hopefully, the student council will agree to do it, but my experience with the student council is that the “realistic, non-realistic” mentality almost always prevails over the “for the better, for the worse” attitude in a group of rather undisciplined people obsessed with change. I have plans, probably more dreams, of how it’ll work out, but councillors can be more popular and ambitious than they are intelligent and hard-working, and I hope that this will not be the case next year.
One thing I wish I could tell everyone is that the original rule change was not the result of an excessively strict newbie eager to make his mark on the school. It was the result of a continuing effort to lift the excessively poor standard of uniform in our school. Certain aspects of the reform were simply overlooked. One always makes a few slips when one encounters a new job; running a school is no exception. Aware now of the implications, the Principal agreed to work with the student council to devise a new rule that will work for everyone.
Those below year thirteen will no doubt want a full reversion. I can guarantee that this will not happen. The old rule had vast flaws that could not be tolerated. The concerns of senior management that led to the original proposal were valid and will need to be addressed. In order to succeed, therefore, the student council will need to have the maturity and the dedication to work towards a solution, rather than attempt a blind proposal to revert. It is nothing to do with an unwillingness by the senior management to “back down” from their authority; rather, it is an unwillingness to take a backwards step in fixing our uniform woes.
I’ve done my first part of speaking for (a rather selective group of) students; the question now is, for the second part, whether those students will get behind me. I am somewhat consoled in that if the student council fails, it will be their problem and not mine; but that is also true of the year thirteen students, for whom it will be a task of unmatched selflessness. Do I care about this too much? Perhaps, but if arguably the most influential student in the school didn’t care about it, who could? The ball has now truly been thrown into the students’ arena. Only they—in a collective effort—can make the most of it.