School divides opinion by banning £100 shoes

Nike Air Force trainers  can sell for more than £100 (Cornish Guardian /
Nike Air Force trainers can sell for more than £100 (Cornish Guardian /

A secondary school has stopped pupils wearing trainers including Nike Air Force 1s - amid a uniform crackdown.

Students at Longhill High School in Ovingdean, East Sussex, were told only 'smart' shoes would be accepted after returning from Easter, according to reports.

They must now wear 'correct' footwear - black leather school shoes - and a guide has been sent out.

Headteacher Rachelle Otulakowski, who joined the school in September last year, said she decided to reinforce the rule after complaints from parents.

She said some were facing pressure from their children to buy Nike Air Force trainers to wear - which can sell for more than £100.

Speaking to the Brighton Argus, Mrs Otulakowski added that funding is available for those who need help to buy smart shoes.

But the move has still split opinion online.

One commenter said: "Banning trainers will make kids behave more? Or they won't care at all at the end and continue with what look like a major issue in society (named kids less able to be part of it)?

"Well, is simple: uniforms are outdated. They are ignoring a modern issue pointing at something that is not important anymore.”

Another posted: "If this is their main concern at this school, god help the children!"

But some agree with the policy.

One woman said: "Think this is fab. School uniform is school Uniform!!!

"It’s not a fashion show and it’s not nice for some families that can not afford designer stuff. Good on them!!

"I am so for strict uniforms. Makes the schools look better too."

Nike Air Force trainers (Cornish Guardian /
Nike Air Force trainers (Cornish Guardian /

And another wrote: "I totally agree with the ban on branded trainers.

"Some families can’t afford them & unfortunately children can be bullied for this. In my opinion all secondary schools should follow suit!"

Mrs Otulakowski said in an email on Monday: "Our policy has always been (for at least 10 years) black leather school shoes, no trainers, it is not a new policy.

"When I realised after being here for a month that some children weren't wearing them, I knew I had to remind parents of the rule and re-enforce it, particularly as I had new Y7parents complaining that their child is wearing shoes but others aren't.

"These parents were facing pressure from their children to buy expensive Nike Air Force trainers for them to wear, having already bought shoes for them.

"I had already began re-enforcing our rule to wear blazers, which parents accepted. I helped parents by buying blazers for any parent who was struggling financially.

"The next step was re-enforcing school shoes. I started by reminding parents of the rule and giving them a 4 month lead up to get ready for the expectation that after Easter."

And she added: "The local authority recognised that as a school that is trying to improve its behaviour, smartening up students was a good start and so they were happy to give me some ring-fenced funding for any student who needed shoes.

"I have bought shoes for any child whose parents have asked. I am not being prescriptive about what shoes they must be, children have sat in my office and looked online and pick the ones they want."

Longhill High School was approached for further comment.