UK schools banning 'distracting' skirts

Some British schools requiring girls to wear trousers as rising hemlines proving too much of a distraction.

LONDON // Increasing numbers of British schools are banning teenage girls from wearing skirts as part of the school uniform - because the hemlines are rising too high.

More than a dozen schools across the country will have a "trousers only" rule when the new term starts in September.

Dozens of other head teachers are now contemplating similar moves.

The problem is that hemlines of girls' skirts have risen to such a level that they are proving a distraction to many of the boys and, quite possibly, to some male teachers.

Robert Kelly, the rector of Berwickshire High School in Scotland, described short skirts as capable of causing "inappropriate thoughts" among boys.

Hilary Winter, headmaster of Piggott School in Wargrave, Surrey, described the short skirts as a "difficult distraction for members of staff".

It is not only a problem in Britain. Many US schools have had to introduce rules governing the maximum distance between the knee and hemline - though exceptions are made for cheerleaders.

In South Korea, schools have now introduced "modesty boards" placed in front of girls' desks.

The head teacher of a school in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, has proposed a ban on skirts because he found some girls were wearing short garments that were "almost like belts".

This week, Northgate High in Ipswich announced that it would become the third school in the English town to remove skirts from its approved uniform list.

It said the move is to prevent students coming to lessons in "inappropriate attire".

David Hutton, the headmaster, said the ban had been welcomed by most parents, with only two objecting.

"Unfortunately, despite contacting specific parents, sending some girls home to change, requiring others to wear a school-owned skirt for the day and repeatedly asking others to unroll their skirts at the waist, we still had some girls coming to school in inappropriate skirts," he said.

"I have therefore introduced a trousers-only policy, which will enable my staff to focus their time and effort on providing pupils with the best education possible."

Don Smith, headmaster at Paget High in Burton-upon-Trent in central England, has gone a step further.

He has not only banned skirts but also refused to allow girls to wear trousers that are too tight and revealing.

"We do not want to arrive at a situation where we are telling girls their skirts can only be a certain number of centimetres above or below the knee," Mr Smith said.

But while most parents do not object to the skirt ban, it has not gone down well with some of their daughters.

Megan Throp, a 15-year-old pupil at Guiseley School in Leeds, where trousers will be compulsory from next month, told the Yorkshire Evening Post newspaper that she and most of her classmates were furious about the skirt ban.

"Our rights and freedom of being young women have been snatched away because we have been forced into wearing school trousers," she said.

"As students who are going into Year 11 and currently sitting GCSE exams, we feel there is more concern for our uniform than our education."

Published: August 24, 2011 04:00 AM


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