Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The great sandal strike of 1977

With the craze for brightly coloured plastic shoes sweeping the country this summer, here's a lesson from history for any schools thinking of denying the right to wear crocs! The following report was published in the Mercury, 7th July 1977:

Schoolkids went on a sandal strike - and won. Pupils at Sedgehill School, Bellingham, were told the could not wear their colourful plastic sandals in school. But a group of them organised secret meetings to plan a strike. And when the break-time bell rang pupils claim 500 stayed in the playground. One of them Sharon Williams, 14, of Morley Road, Lewisham said: 'One of the teachers came out and threatened the boys with a beating and girls with suspension. Some went back and the rest stayed'.

Veron Smith, 15, of Erlanger Road, New Cross, said: 'We said "Give in and we'll go in and do our work" and they did. The next day they announced we could wear them'. A teacher, who asked for her name to be withheld, said: 'They were told they could not wear them because they were dangerous and bad for their feet'.

After the strike last week, which lasted 15 minutes, some of the leaders claim they were picked out for punishment by being sent home. One of those sent home, David Fisher, 15, of Southend Lane, Bellingham, said: 'The plastic sandals are just cooler in the summer. I don't know why they are supposed to be dangerous. It was the deputy head, not the headmaster who stopped us wearing them'.

Headmaster James Turner declined to comment. An ILEA spokesman said: 'It was just a handful of pupils at the end of break discussing these plastic sandals which a member of staff though were slippery. The headmaster examined the sandals and felt that though they were unsuitable, they could still be worn'.

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