Friday, May 26, 2006
Flag ban lifted
A school has lifted a ban on pupils carrying England flags during this summer's World Cup after the policy "upset" the children.
The uniform policy at Birches Head High School in Stoke-on-Trent does not allow flags or badges.
But after protests from parents, some staff and children, the ban was relaxed by head teacher Karen Healey for the World Cup, which starts next month.
"It upsets the kids. That's why we have changed it," she said.
In a letter to parents, Ms Healey said: "It has been important to Birches Head High School that all students and staff have a pride in their school, community, city and country.
"Although our policy has been to not allow non-school badges and discourage flags unless in relation to learning, we are changing this policy due to it being seen as not supporting the World Cup rather than being in relation to behaviour and uniform."
She added: "The World Cup is perceived in this school as a learning opportunity to support the development of citizenship education."
Reports suggested fears of the rise in support for the British National Party in the area had prompted the ban on the St George's flag.
Mrs Healey said this had been "a side issue", adding: "Our job is to make sure they (pupils) can make informed decisions."
Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, said: "The BNP's attempts to exploit the English flag for their pernicious purposes are wholly unacceptable and must be challenged at every level.
"I have every sympathy with schools striving to distance themselves from the BNP.
"It is, however, essential that we do not surrender to those with a racist and fascist agenda or stifle national pride in the achievements of a multicultural England football team which is representing a multicultural nation."