Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Police had to be called to a school in the English south coast town of Margate when 50 pupils were turned away from the school gates for not following strict uniform rules.
For some of the 11-year-old children sent home it was their first day at high school at the start of the new term.
For new headmaster Matthew Tate it was his first day in charge of the and he stuck to his principles, insisting the uniform rules would be strictly applied.
A poll among readers of the Kent Messenger newspaper shows 75 percent of parents back the headmaster's stand over uniforms.
The incident has sparked a debate about school discipline and whether there are more important issues facing the education system in Britain than whether kids are wearing the correct shoes, skirts or trousers.
Banned are items of clothing such as trainers, shoes showing brand logos, leather jackets, skin-tight trousers.
The school even has a dress code for its teachers, banning cleavages from being seen, mini skirts, low cut provocative or scrappy tops, any denim clothing, nose studs or belly rings.
Some of the parents protested that their children were turned away for minor infringements of the uniform rules, but as anger raged the police had to be called.
Chris McGovern, who chairs the Campaign for Real Education, backs the idea of school uniforms, saying they give a badge of identity to school students.
He also sees a uniform policy as democratic by enabling students to follow a dress code that applies to everyone.
He told Xinhua in an interview Monday: "It is a characteristic of British schools, but we are not obsessed by uniforms. If there is a uniform code it is up to parents and children to support it, and supporting the rules of the school in general."
McGovern, a former head teacher at a school in North London, added: "There are issues about how school rules are managed. We felt that in the recent case in Kent it could have been handled with more sensitivity. Some of the children aged 11 were arriving at their new school for the first time. This had been a failing school with a new head teacher."
"There is a downside to uniform policies because at some schools they can be quite expensive. In some cases children are excluded from attending a particular school not because of any entrance exam in the case of grammar schools, but the inability to afford the cost of the uniforms," said McGovern.
"I wish that education paid as much attention to skills such as literacy and numeracy as it does to uniforms and dress codes, said McGovern, noting "Currently we are ranked in the bottom two places by OECD in literacy and numeracy."
"You only have to look at schools in China and parts of Asia to realise how far behind we are. Fifty years ago we had traditional classrooms in Britain with teachers at the front of the class facing the pupils. That tradition continues to China and Asia and other parts of the world but has changed here in Britain," said McGovern.
In Britain there are no rules about whether uniforms should be worn, or ordinary dress allowed.
Both the schools standards agency Ofsted and the Department for Education say it's a matter for each individual school.
Tate, a father of seven, said on his recent appointment at Hartsdown: "As a father and a headteacher, I believe that an excellent education is a matter of justice and that good schools make a real difference both to children's lives and the community."
"I am looking forward to working with Hartsdown's staff to provide the best possible education for Hartsdown students," said Tate.
His strict uniform policy from day one has been welcomed by other schools in the county, but importantly by the vast majority of parents.
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