Worksop: Anger after pupils suspended from Outwood Academy Portland for wearing charity badges

Outwood Academy Portland
Outwood Academy Portland

Students at Outwood Academy Portland have been suspended from school for wearing charity badges on their blazers.

One 14-year-old girl, who lost her aunt to cancer just a few weeks ago, was among the pupils who were temporarily excluded.

The school has said pupils are free to wear any badges, including charity ones, on their bags and outdoor coats, but not on their blazers.

Pupil Kayleigh Robinson was stopped at the school gate last week and told to remove the yellow flower she had worn for a year to show her support for those battling the cruel illness, according to her mother Deborah Handshaw.

She had been wearing the badge to remember an aunt who had been diagnosed with cancer about two years ago and sadly died a month ago.

Deborah, 33, said Kayleigh fully explained her situation to the teacher and refused to remove the badge, but she was excluded for ‘refusing a reasonable request.’

Deborah said: “It is just a small, little yellow flower, it has been there for a year and is the only badge she wears on a her black blazer.”

“Kayleigh asked the teacher if she could work in seclusion but with the badge on but he wouldn’t have it. He wanted her to put it on her bag, that seems to be to only reasonable way.”

Kayleigh added: “It makes me feel rather upset, I just wore it to remember my aunt.”

Braden Wilson, 13, from Rhodesia, was another of the pupils suspended for wearing a charity badge.

His grandmother Hazel Whitfield said: “I think the school is absolutely ridiculous. Something now has got to be done.”

“The worst thing is that his other grandmother has just had the all clear from her cancer and his great-grandmother is in hospital with it and is in a really bad way.”

“This is going to go down on his school records. He is a bright student, very well mannered. He wants to go to university.”

Pupil Charlie Cooper, 13, vice president of the Student Voice, said the school’s pupil body was against the ‘banning of charity badges on their blazers.’

He said: “I lost my grandad to cancer a couple of years ago and I love to support Cancer Research UK and The Teenage Cancer Trust.”

“Unfortunately our principal, Dr Smith, has decided that we should take more pride in our uniform.”

“This I believe is okay but what we as the pupil body don’t believe in is banning the wearing of charity badges on the outside of our blazers. What we can do though is wear them on the inside of our blazers where no one can see them.”

He felt the school was sending a message out that badges, whether fashionable or charitable, were distracting pupils from getting good grades.

The mother of a pupil, who had been threatened with exclusion for wearing a Macmillan badge, added: “I know my daughter and many other pupils have a reason to support these charities and like to show they are doing so and I totally agree. I think the school is taking this way too far, especially when they claim to encourage students to stand up for what they believe in.”

A spokesman for Outwood Academy Portland said in a statement: “Outwood Grange Academies Trust has a proud record of supporting charities and encouraging each student to take part in charitable activities. Our trust actively supports the Help for Heroes charity amongst others.”

“There are some students who were wearing five or six badges, some that include football, music or fashion, on their lapels and we feel this detracts from the drive to support individual charities.”

“We organise a number of charity events throughout the school year which are highly successful in raising the profile and the importance of many charities.”

“Students are given the opportunity to show their support for charities at particular times of the year to coincide with national or international appeals which often includes students wearing a particular badge, poppy, bangle or ribbon.”

“To highlight the importance of these activities we ask that students refrain from wearing them throughout the year; a poppy, for example would lose its impact if it just became another badge.”

“However we are more than happy for students to wear multiple charity badges on their bags or outside coats as this does not form part of the uniform.”

The spokesman added that on Friday 31st January, less than 10 students were excluded for refusing a reasonable request but not all necessarily relate to the refusal to remove non-uniform badges.