I used the forum of this week's Headmaster's Assembly to remind all our students of the KY Dress Code. The picture you see above is going to be displayed in every college classroom and laboratory, so that no one is in any doubt as to what is acceptable on our campus.
Dress is one of the ways in which young people like to express individuality and challenge, albeit mildly, the accepted norm. Many years ago, when I was doing A-levels, I recall being reprimanded for wearing a pink shirt instead of the regulation white or blue. However, my rebellion only extended to a shirt - I still conformed by wearing the regulation uniform of dark grey trousers, school tie and blazer, and what the school called "sober socks." I have never been entirely sure what that term means!
Imposing a dress code on students (and teachers) is never going to be a popular fact of life in a school. Nonetheless, I think we err on the side of generosity by not imposing a uniform on students here. In the 1980's and 90's I worked in a military college in the Middle East where all the students were warrant officer cadets (and thus wore regulation uniform). This rule was imposed equally on teachers and management, all of whom had to come to work in standard clothing supplied by the company.
I often say to parents of potential new students at KY that we are a halfway house between school and university. This means we have to have rules, but that we try and make them as reasonable and sensible as possible. Dress is one of those grey areas where we could have disagreement between students and teachers. There are those who favour an "anything goes" approach, while many would prefer a much stricter regime - possibly requiring a uniform. I like to think our picture shows a decent compromise.
The problem was highlighted recently in CIE Trial Examinations at KY. Many teachers who were invigilating, came to me to express their dislike of flip-flop sandals and other examples of inappropriate clothing. This prompted me to display the picture you see above around the college and to show it during my assembly. If nothing else, dressing suitably for an occasion is a life skill that we all need. Our students are often referred to as "tomorrow's leaders." While it has been pointed out to me that Barack Obama seldom wore a tie, he was always, nonetheless, immaculately turned out for formal occasions. Appropriateness is something that is not instinctive: it has to be learned or acquired by following suitable examples. The KY dress code is not onerous (I personally think a uniform would be step too far) and by following it, our students are learning habits that they will need to observe in the workplace. I would be glad if you talked about dress sense with your children, too. We can only get things like this to work well if we know we have your solid and continuing support.
Lastly, the first CIE examination (Marine Science) is scheduled for next week on April 25. AS and A2 exams will then run continuously through to June 9. As always at this time of year, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of everyone at the college, to wish your sons and daughters every success. They deserve it having worked so hard all year.