Skirts banned at Stowmarket school to protect modesty in new-look building

Stowmarket High School Picture: MARK LANGFORD

Stowmarket High School Picture: MARK LANGFORD - Credit: Archant

A school in Suffolk has banned skirts for new students in a bid to protect modesty in a new school building which will have glass sided stairwells.

The new intake of year 7 students at Stowmarket High School have been told that they will have to wear a more 'practical' uniform, including trousers for all, a blazer and clip-on tie, a change from the black pullover previously worn by pupils.

The school's website explains that the new policy has been partially forced by their move to a new school building which has been designed to have glass sided staircases which compromises the modesty of those wearing skirts.

The new rule, which will not apply to students in Year 8, 9, 10 and 11 until the 2020 school year, when the school moves to the new building, has prompted anger from parents who believe the school is 'cracking down on girls behaving differently than boys' by 'forcing a gender neutral dress code on them'.

However, the school's headteacher, Dave Lee-Allan believes that the new uniform is 'extremely smart and cheaper than the previous version'.

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He said: "I was concerned about the new build but have been reassured by the designers that personal privacy has not been an issue in similar buildings.

"There are numbers of schools in the county and across the country that have a uniform that does not include skirts and have operated successfully with no issues. Following a press report last year I wrote to parents to say that I would commit to exploring options around finding a cheaper uniform.

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"The resultant uniform is extremely smart and cheaper than the previous version. It is also designed to be practical - for example we have now have the availability during the summer for students to wear shorts."

However, some parents are still angry with the change.

One parent who wanted to remain anonymous said: "If this really just about glass side stairs then how come female staff are still wearing skirts? No-one believes this nonsense.

"It's obvious that what is really about is cracking down on girls behaving differently than boys by forcing a gender neutral dress code on them.

"They've exempted teachers because they have a union, while the kids are powerless and so their views count for nothing. It's a disgrace."

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