A RIPON school has performed a U-turn over banning students routinely wearing wristbands supporting Help for Heroes – the charity for injured Armed Forces personnel.
In a letter sent to parents last Friday, March 16, Outwood Academy Ripon (formerly Ripon College) principal Barry Found said the school would not tolerate pupils wearing the wristbands after the Easter holidays – unless it was a special event sanctioned by the school – because it classed them as jewellery and a breach of the school’s uniform code.
He wrote: “After the Easter holidays, bands will no longer be allowed so please ensure your child does not wear them and invite sanctions through our consequences system.
“In future there may be other ‘windows’ of support which we will always inform you of.”
The ban prompted an outcry in Ripon – home to the Royal Engineers’ 21 Engineer Regiment – and a viral internet campaign against the policy.
Many unhappy with the ban posted their views on Twitter, and the Gazette was contacted by people as far away as Poland to express their disgust.
Just two working days after his first correspondence with parents, Mr Found issued another letter, on Tuesday, March 20, stating the wearing of wristbands after Easter would now be permitted as they had just been incorporated as part of Outwood Academy Ripon’s permitted uniform.
When contacted for a comment regarding the policy U-turn, Mr Found issued a statement.
He said: “This Academy and predecessor school has a long tradition of supporting our local garrison and its troops.
“It is important to make clear that Outwood Academies have a policy which requires students to refrain from wearing any form of jewellery, including wristbands.
“However, in order to show our solidarity and support, the Academy changed its policy to allow students to wear the Help for Heroes wristbands until the end of this term and encouraged students to do so.
“This has been wrongfully interpreted as banning wristbands from Easter rather than the actual policy of allowing students to wear them now.
“Following discussions with the student council it has been decided that the Help for Heroes charity be formally adopted as our official charity of choice and therefore that students will be able to wear this one wristband as an optional piece of uniform on a permanent basis.
“We have a number of students who have parents serving in the forces, and as we are based in a garrison town, the Academy would like to reiterate that it has and will continue to support the Help for Heroes charity throughout the year.
“As just one example of our support, the Academy has already confirmed and continues to plan a major event which will take place at Ripon Cathedral in December. This event will be entirely devoted to supporting the Help for Heroes charity.”