- Student feedback indicated that 20% were in favour and 80% were against.
For some, there was anxiety about the change of uniform: “we don’t want the uniform to be green”. For others in the upper school, there was a strong loyalty to the name and an anxiety that they would lose the chance to have leavers’ hoodies from Stanley Park. Others were very used to the name, especially those coming from Stanley Park primary schools, and didn’t want to change. Some thought that the school couldn’t afford the costs of changing the name.
There were those in favour too. They wanted a fresh start. They thought that the name held some poor history and thought a fresh break was a good thing.
Trust response to students:
The Trust recognises the strength of feeling from both sides of the argument. It makes commitments to students as shown below, written to students:
- The school colours will remain unchanged and the blazer will remain the current blue colour. There will be no switch to green blazers, skirts etc.
- You can wear Stanley Park badged items to school and in PE lessons until September 2021. For current years 9 and 10, you can remain “Stanley Park” badged until you join the sixth form or leave the school.
- Leavers’ hoodies are for leavers. If you prefer to have Stanley Park High School on your hoodies, then the Trust will respect this.
- The additional costs associated with the name change are low; this cost will not make any difference to the support and resources available.
- The Trust will not discard the past history of the school. The Trust agrees that there are significant achievements in the past of the school’s history that should be recorded. The Trust will ask the school to develop a past students’ alumni page as well as a history page that will celebrate the school’s past and the links to the local area.
- It will ask the CEO of the Trust to meet with school council and see if there are other concerns that can be answered.
Why has the Trust taken the adults’ responses in preference to student feedback?
Adults tend to think about the bigger picture and the longer term situation. In this situation, they take into account the local community perception, the history of the school, the mechanisms of change and the underlying messages that eg a name change sends out to the community. Adults have an understanding of the adult world, and how it works, in a way that most teenagers do not.
Most teenagers think about the immediate, and how a decision impacts upon them. This is perfectly natural and is part of growing up. Parents and school staff spend much time explaining others’ viewpoints and helping teenagers see the bigger picture to prepare them for the adult world.
In this case, students are naturally looking for the things that are important to them. Eg the leavers’ hoodies or the wish to not have a green uniform. Teenagers are also an interesting mix of wanting the familiarity of staff, routines and names whilst also pushing against these structures and rules.
We also know that half of those currently in school will be in sixth form or will have left the school by the time the new blazer becomes compulsory. They can continue to wear SPH badges with pride, if that is their preference, and we have no problem with them continuing to keep these strong links to SPH.
There is a long lead in time of two years before we ask students to break with the SPH names on blazers. Whilst not planned as such, this gives students transition time.
When making the decision, the Trust has looked for the long-term interests of the school, including future students and families who are yet to apply. This goes beyond the immediate cohort and their views and reinforces the long term commitment of the Trust to its schools.
Does this mean that student voice does not have a place anymore?
Not at all. However, having a voice is not the same as making the decisions.
The Trust has to take a long-term view. It needs to think about the school a year from now, 5 years from now and 10 years from now. It agrees with the adults that responded that a change of name for the school’s future is in its best interest.
The Trust will ask the school to arrange for school council to meet with the CEO in order to talk through their anxieties about the name change and see if there are other commitments that can be made to reassure students. There is information to feedback the outcome to students and let them know to raise questions or concerns with school council.
In addition, the Trust has already made commitments to students as a result of their voice (see above).
How will the Trust explain to students?
The Trust will meet with the student council to discuss the issues. The Trust will also provide the school with information for students that explains why the name change has been decided and what it will do to take into account that many students are keen to keep that connection with the old name.
They will also explain how the school is being closed by the DfE, and how Oaks Park is (as far as the department of education is concerned) a new school regardless of its name.