Carisbrooke headteacher Peter Shaw.
THE VIEW FROM HERE I HAD to do a double-check when I read what Peter Shaw, headteacher at Carisbrooke College, had to say last week on the subject of school uniform.
At first I thought Mr Shaw might have wandered in via a time machine from the 1950s or was on stage, pretending to be some mortar-boarded caricature from the pages of the Beano.
But no. Mr Shaw is cracking down on pupils and parents who flout Carisbrooke’s school uniform rules and, be assured, there’s no messing with him on this matter.
"A uniform is one of the basic building blocks of any school. It fits in with our ethos of respect, behaviour and high standards," he says.
Attaboy, Mr Shaw! If I were wearing a tie, I’d be straightening it right now, I can tell you. Coo, you’re really scary. Any more?
"Parents who might be finding it difficult to ensure their son or daughter is able to follow our uniform code and standards of appearance are obviously free to research whether there are other schools available locally with a uniform code considered more appropriate."
I wonder if I’m a little bit in love with Mr Shaw? It’s hard to resist a man who does sarcasm so well. Yes, indeedy, send these slackers off to Slobsville Academy, thus enabling you to lead Carisbrooke into the knotted-tie and blazered heaven of school-uniform excellence.
Quite apart from Mr Shaw’s brilliance with words, not to mention the excitingly square-jawed picture which accompanied this story, he has given us all cause for optimism.
It is tempting to suppose, particularly in view of the prevalent gloom that has hung over our schools in the past few years, that we might as well give up on the Island’s future.
Our students seem to be hopeless at everything. They can’t pass exams and now some of them are incapable of dressing themselves in accordance with simple instructions.
Mr Shaw has put his finger on something crucial.
He describes uniform as a "basic building block" and he is absolutely right.
Not unnaturally, I’ve come over all Latin in his presence and am recalling the expression "Mens sana in corpore sano" — a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Well, being fit is certainly germane to having a receptive mind but so is feeling tidy, being proud to show yourself as part of a community, having an appearance that will do credit to your school and feed your ambition to do even better.
Those pupils and parents who think blazers and ties are unnecessary nonsense merely demonstrate their own woolly thinking and are unlikely to do much for the future of the Island. Let them slouch off to those schools which are less clued-up than Carisbrooke.
But just in case you think I’m teacher’s pet, I would exhort Carisbrooke pupils to rebel, within acceptable limits, over their uniform. It’s has always been de rigueur to test the boundaries (I spent many happy hours making my school panama hat look really tatty by drilling a hole in its top with the end of my geometry compass), so I urge them to pull that tie knot down a bit, stuff their hands in their blazer pockets and let their shirt tails hang out.
Mr Shaw will be on the case within minutes but at least you’ll have used your imaginative powers and shown some excellent subversive initiative, absolutely essential if you’re to get anywhere in this vanilla world.
Now back to your desks and tell Mr Shaw what the square root of pi is.
Strange twist to the big bust-up over hospice fundraiser’s departure
THERE'S been a humdinger of a fall-out following fundraising manager Karen Eeles’s departure from the Earl Mountbatten hospice after 11 years’ service.
Verbal bazookas and shrapnel flying everywhere, furious Islanders withdrawing their support, accusations and outrage whizzing around like a blitzkrieg.
It’s been a PR disaster for the hospice management, though I can’t give you much more information, because the three requests I made last week to speak to administrators continue to be ignored.
Nine days now and counting. Just no PR savvy, I’m afraid. Even if they returned my calls and then told me to get lost, that would be better and less craven than this inefficient carry-on.
Meanwhile, the hospice’s chairman of the trustees, Peter Kingston, has understandably gone on holiday, probably to a darkened room, so chief executive Tina Harris is holding the fort.
You feel almost sorry for her. Everyone giving her hell and the one person who wrote to the CP in support of her management was no help at all.
The letter from Hilary Foreman was extraordinarily nasty in tone, describing Mrs Eeles as a "relatively minor person".
Goodness, you might almost think something personal was going on. But obviously the Hilary Foreman who wrote the letter and accused the CP of being partisan is in no way connected with the Hilary Foreman who was director of personnel and voluntary services at the hospice until her retirement last year — otherwise she would, in the interests of transparency and the need to declare partisan interests, have surely mentioned this fact.