The Ellerslie School is sticking to its decision to change its uniform come the start of the 2018/2019 academic year.
Principal Major Errol Braithwaite all but put the matter to bed at an hour-long meeting this evening with close to 200 parents who filled the school’s hall.
Although no official explanation was made public, Barbados TODAY understands a survey carried out by the school’s management found overwhelming support for the change, which is also touted as more affordable for parents.
After the meeting ended just around 5 p.m., parents who spoke to Barbados TODAY supported the change.
“To me, from the beginning I had no problem with the uniform. Change is good. The khaki and the white seem to be okay and I like the idea with the crest. I’m happy with the change,” Judy Wickham, who has a son who will enter fourth form next school year, said.
“As far as I understand the meeting went well. There were talks with the students about the change since last year and we were also told, so it didn’t come as a surprise to me,” Wickham said.
Past student and parent Serena Browne also supported the decision, while appealing to parents and students to accept the new uniform.
“I don’t have a problem with the uniform change. I was thinking that the challenges for my fellow parents and their concerns would be how it was communicated to them. Some people thought it was too sudden, but in earlier days we were informed that the uniform would be fazed out at a PTA meeting,” Browne said, going on to state that the students’ education should be the priority.
“The uniform doesn’t help students in terms of their learning process . . . . It is all about the betterment of the students. The uniform will not make the child. We have to embrace the change. All students have to do is wear the uniform and come to school and do their best,” she stressed.
The planned change sparked controversy among parents and the school’s alumni association, many of whom complained that it was much too sudden and they were left out of the decision-making process.
In addition, there were several complaints that the new uniform closely resembled the one worn by Combermere students.
The students, known as Brown Cows for the colour of the uniform, will have a different look come next school year, with the traditional khaki shirt and pants worn by those in the junior school being replaced by white shirts, the school crest and khaki pants for the boys and a khaki overall, as opposed to brown, for the girls.
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.
The upset members of the alumni association charged that the school would lose its identity, and its history was being compromised.
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 his bid to pressure the Ministry of Education to reverse the decision.
The alumni association also staged a peaceful protest outside of the compound last Friday, to highlight its opposition to the change.
However, the protest did not go down well with Browne, who told Barbados TODAY she felt let down by those who participated.
“I was very disappointed. If you have concerns as the alumni, contact the principal and try to get a meeting with him and try to work out things. We shouldn’t be only hearing the alumni as it relates to a uniform,” she said.
However, one member of the alumni association continues to fume despite today’s announcement, accusing the principal of having a dialogue with parents “now that the decision has been taken”.
“The change in the uniform was made . . . unknown to us. Nobody consulted with us. It is not so much the change, it is the fact that we were left out of the decision and that is the hurtful part,” he said.