Remember Gulliver's Travels?
I don't, not really. Don't tell anyone but I haven't ever read the actual book, although I did have a highly excellent (probably ladybird) illustrated version.
As I say, I don't remember much about it, but I do recall the Big-endians and the Little-endians. Two separate factions of Lilliputians (technically, I now learn from wikipedia, some were Blefuscans, but we'll gloss over that bit, as I suspect my source text did) caught in vicious internecine squabbles about which end of an egg is up.
Personally I'm a little-endian, but I can cope with the alternative, if I must.
Anyway, I digress. The point is that this has nothing on what's going on at school at the moment.
We have a new(ish) head. She has arrived with a lovely, equally new, broom, with which she intends to sweep clean any corners she's not so keen on.
One of those corners is uniform.
As it happens, I think she's right. Bearing in mind I went to a school that required me to have (and my parents to invest large sums of money in), in addition to my every day uniform, a full length cloak (with lined hood), as well as a blazer, a boater and a suit for Sundays, asking everyone to look reasonably neat in matching sweatshirts and polo shirts (secretly I'd rather they were wearing proper shirts but you can't have it all) doesn't seem to me too much. And, if the truth be told, lots of the children, particularly the older ones (whose parents, I suspect, have wearied of that particular battle) were beginning to get rather scruffy. I also happen (and I realise it makes me sound a bit Daily youknowwhat) to think uniform makes a difference. We dress up for things that are important and we make an effort for people we respect, so I think asking children to dress smartly encourages them to think of school and what they do there as something that matters.
And most of the other parents agree. There is universal approval for the idea that the children should be neatened up a bit.
There is no agreement on how.
The playground is full of secretive huddles of whispering parents you are frightened to approach for fear they'll ask you what you think. Are you a Little-Endian or a Big-Endian? Should jerseys be red or black? Trousers be black or grey? Have they realised that the local supermarket doesn't stock black? (Though that particular problem seems rather chicken and egg (whichever way up) to me.) Can girls wear trousers? Or cardigans? What if it's cold? And where do you stand on the irresolvable problem of gingham dresses?
Everyone has their preferred choice and everyone has a (invariably contradictory) story about some child hauled before the head for wearing it.
And no-one, but no-one (and yes, I include myself), is saying anything about the new literacy programme she's also introduced.
Secondary School: Excitement and Jitters
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