An explanation is likely tomorrow from The Ellerslie School for the sudden and controversial change in uniform.
Principal Lieutenant Colonel Errol Brathwaite has summoned parents to a meeting at the Black Rock, St Michael institution to address the issue, which has left some parents and old scholars fuming.
Members of the school’s alumni association staged a peaceful protest outside of the compound last Friday to vent their frustration over the decision.
In addition, former student Rodney Garnes has started an online petition titled Don’t Change My Ellerslie Uniform, which up until the time of publication had attracted 1,232 of the 1,500 signatures he is seeking in a bid to pressure the Ministry of Education to reverse the decision.
The students, known as Brown Cows for the brown trousers worn by senior boys, brown overalls worn by girls, and the all khaki in the junior school, will have a different look come next school year.
Instead of the traditional khaki shirt and pants in the junior school, the boys will wear white shirts with the school crest, and khaki pants, while the girls will wear a khaki overall, as opposed to brown.
Senior boys will continue to wear white shirts, but the brown trousers will be replaced by khaki pants, while the school crest and tie will replace the epaulettes.
“You are cordially invited to attend a meeting in the school hall at 4 p.m. on Tuesday July 10, 2018 to provide you with an update of the uniform changes,” the letter addressed to parents read.
However, a senior member of the school’s alumni association has questioned the rationale for tomorrow’s meeting.
“I think it’s because we kicked up a rumpus they are trying to get a dialogue now from parents who are also complaining about the change in uniform as well. This meeting now has me a little baffled as to why they now have to call parents to update them,” the former student said.
In fact, Caramel Weir, who was among the placard carrying ex students last week, said the old scholars’ association felt disrespected by the lack of consultation.
“We are concerned with the complete obviation of our school’s 50 year-plus history. Nobody has said ‘let me hear what the old scholars think about the change’ and our point of view. It says to me that it was blatantly done. We are interested in Ellerslie; anytime they ask us to assist at the school we do,” Weir said.
“I’m perturbed about the incident and I feel disregarded because nobody had the courtesy to say, ‘let us bring the old scholars in on this dialogue and see what they think about this change’ and what ideas we could put forward. Let us have a voice to saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Don’t just do something and think we have to accept it. That is not fair to us. It is very hurtful,” she added.
Neither the Ministry of Education nor the school’s management has commented on the development, and no reasons have been given for the change.
However, Barbados TODAY understands it has been in the works for over a year.
Still, a clearly upset Weir said there were more serious matters at the school to be addressed.
“Changing up the school’s image and still not dealing with the issues of school behaviour is like taking a pig out of a pig pen, bathing it and putting it back into the dirty pen,” the past student said.
“Address the behaviour issue. It is not only Ellerslie that has those type of students, but you don’t see them change a whole school’s history.”
The Ellerslie School, which until late last year was known as Ellerslie Secondary School, has been beset by violence in recent times, including a student-on-teacher attack in 2016 and a cutlass attack last November in which a student lost a finger.
Weir told Barbados TODAY the ministry and the school must give an explanation for the uniform change.
“Nobody from the Ministry of Education or the board of management is saying ‘at least let us hear the old scholars issues’. It is like, to hell with us. It would blow up now and everything will go back as normal. They are laying their foundation on that so we would just go away.
“I am peeved with the fact that nobody is talking to us. We have a genuine concern also . . . so why isn’t anyone giving us the time of day to address our situation? I don’t understand why we won’t be informed. Give us a reason for the uniform change,” Weir insisted.
Approached by Barbados TODAY for comment on the matter, Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw said she was not prepared to enter the raging debate at this stage.