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to think that the rules around changing for PE are unfair?

(74 Posts)
olgafromthevolga Mon 25-Mar-13 13:46:49

DS2 is in Y6, and when it comes to PE, the rule is that girls get changed in the classroom and the boys get changed in the corridor. No-one is allowed into the classroom until all of the girls are changed and no-one is allowed to look through the window. However, anyone who wants to can walk down the corridor, and the girls are allowed to leave the classroom and go into the corridor as soon as they are changed. Now I have no issue with DS2 being spotted in his undercrackers, but it does seem to me that there is a bit of an indefensible double standard going on here. Is this kind of thing normal procedure?

ColaConkie Mon 25-Mar-13 13:49:43

It was when I was at primary school about 30 years ago. Surprised it still goes on

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 13:50:47


Girls are no more or less in need of being protected from anyone seeing their bodies.

My feeling is that we would have a healthier attitude towards bodies and difference in general if everyone just changed together period.

But I could just about live with both boys and girls being treated equally.

WorraLiberty Mon 25-Mar-13 13:54:57

I disagree that girls are no more or less in need of being protected from anyone seeing their bodies....if they're on a period for example.

Girls of that age are often just trying to get their head around bleeding every months without the boys spotting a sanitary pad/blood on their knickers.

Journey Mon 25-Mar-13 14:03:28

YANBU. I think it a lack of respect letting the girls go out into the corridor when they are ready. Surely the girls should all wait in the classroom until they're all changed. There is hardly any privacy for the boys being in a corridor where anyone from another class could walk by so I think the boys deserve a bit more respect than they're getting.

Such an easy solution as well by just asking the girls to wait.

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:07:04

worra so you think that boys are intrinsically more likely to cause trouble of a period than the other girls in the class? Or maybe if they all changed together boys would ;earn the normality of periods at the same rate as the girls?

Also WTF to girls getting their periods in y6! The average for my year at school was y9. Things have really changed....

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 25-Mar-13 14:07:43


When we used to get changed after water sports with going people girls got the minibus, boys got a bush (if they were lucky)

Guys only have to cover penis/scrotum, and are mire used to be exposed around each other (urinals etc)

Girls have to cover breasts and vulva this is pretty tricky sonetimes

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:07:46

The thing is that you only need privacy while changing if you think bodies are something to be ashamed of.

Why are we teaching our kids that this is true?

WorraLiberty Mon 25-Mar-13 14:09:57

Of course some girls get their periods in year 6 (and lower) and yes maybe attitudes would be healthier if they weren't separated.

But I don't think many young girls in that position would agree with you.

DeafLeopard Mon 25-Mar-13 14:10:03

ICBINEG - I know of a few girls who have started their periods in Y5.

YANBU to be upset at double standards, but I think as girls show signs of starting puberty earlier than boys the school are misguidedly trying to give them some protection without affording the same to the boys.

Emilythornesbff Mon 25-Mar-13 14:10:54

They should really ask the girls to wait too.
But this is not an area where boys and girls are equal.
The female form is objectified extensively and that affects the social protocols around privacy and modesty.

Ideally there would be changing rooms for each. I'm quite surprised things have changed so much since I was at school.

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:14:18

worra oh I don't doubt it's true...I am just amazed by it.

This is the central problem of teach what would be of most benefit to society or to teach in the way that makes the most people happy....

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:16:02

Or in other words a girl in y5 having a period may hate getting changed in front of everyone but the same girl aged 25 not having to shave every area or be embarrassed in changing rooms ever again or be objectified would thank her younger self for taking the trouble....

jamdonut Mon 25-Mar-13 14:16:44

What is really weird,( and I mentioned this to the class teacher only the other day), that girls and boys in our year 3/4 (so ages 7 - 9) class are hiding behind tables and chairs to get changed.
When I was this age, I thought nothing of getting changed with members of the opposite sex, and we used to do p.e. in pants and vests. The children at least have p.e.kits to wear! It wasn't till I was in yr6 that I started to get a bit embarrassed,but that was because I was I was a bit more developed than some of my peers.
We have had a few incidences of periods starting in year 6.

Emilythornesbff Mon 25-Mar-13 14:21:39

Privacy is not synonymous with shame.
Children younger than yr 6 (often around 6 yrs old ish) experience shyness in connection with nudity. It doesn't mean they are ashamed. Forcing them to mix when the would feel uncomfortable with it would be a problem.

I can see that there is a double standard but really it reflects wider issues.
Pubescent children are not the people to force into making changes to our socio - sexual inequalities are they?

TheFallenNinja Mon 25-Mar-13 14:41:01

All rules will seemingly favour one group over another. On this case though, I suspect it's straightforward logistics.

YAB (a bit) U

gymmummy64 Mon 25-Mar-13 14:47:02

In our primary, girls and boys get changed together in the classroom for as long as they want. From year 4/5 onwards if individuals want to go to the loos to change they can, but there are penalties for anyone taking too long wherever they choose to get changed (to avoid slow groups I guess). Seems to work fine. My DD2 has just started taking herself off to the loos.

ICBINEG Mon 25-Mar-13 14:49:14

emily erm yes actually I do think we should be forcing an ethos of equality on our children. Because it is morally not hitting each other etc.

So why are kids shy around nudity? Is it that by the time they hit school they have had 5 years of people told by their parents that they shouldn't take clothes off?

mumsneedwine Mon 25-Mar-13 14:54:28

My year 6 DD is 5 ft 3, has a 28C chest and has periods (as do a third of the year). She is not the tallest in class. She is obviously very self conscious about her body and doesn't really want to change in front of anyone. I think the thought behind the rules is that boys might like to get a sneaky peak at the girls whereas the girls have very little interest in seeing the boys. Before you all shout at me, I have boys too. I agree it should be no one leaves either area until all changed and maybe you could suggest this to the school.

KellyElly Mon 25-Mar-13 15:03:07

But I don't think many young girls in that position would agree with you. Indeed. I remember the trauma of swimming when the majority of the girls were very conscious of their changing bodies and were also subject to nasty comments from the boys about being fat etc at that age and just a bit older. I do remember girls being much shyer with their bodies at that age but I suspect many on here will tell me I'm wrong.

shewhowines Mon 25-Mar-13 15:04:56

Girls need privacy at that age (and younger). Boys less so. In the quest for equality boys should also have the same privacy but in the real world it's not possible for one teacher to supervise two groups of children getting changed in separate places so the corridor and classroom is the only real viable option for health and safety reasons.

children don't get changed for PE at school at that age here. Problem solved.

BiddyPop Mon 25-Mar-13 15:10:01

When I was in the equivalent of y5 (small school so 2 classes together in 1 room) there were already 2 girls from the group of 6 who were having regular periods, 1 of them for over a year.

Whereas I don't think anyone in my group (8 girls) started until secondary. My DSis, 11 mths younger than me, started exactly 1 month after me and 1 week before my 2nd - and said nothing (I was getting grief from DM about not following the "rules" - poor DSis hadn't even known what was happening and was using loo roll and didn't know about the rules, I didn't even know about them til the night it first happened me, there was great information flow and transparency in our house hmm).

Sorry, a bit off topic, but the first part struck me from early posts.

shockers Mon 25-Mar-13 15:10:51

I have a girl and two boys, my daughter developed far earlier than either of my sons.

I also work within primary (year 5). There are girls in my class who have developed breasts and started their periods, they are very aware of their changing bodies. The boys are still very much unaffected by puberty and mostly spend 'getting changed time' dancing around in their shreddies

stressyBessy22 Mon 25-Mar-13 15:15:25

At our primary school they all get changed in the toilets.Although it is a very small class, might not be feasible in larger class.

heidipi Mon 25-Mar-13 15:20:42

ICBINEG but if none of us should be shy around nudity then adults should all get changed together as well, and we don't - at least not at any of the sports centres, gyms, clothes shops etc I've been in. Kids are used to separate male and female changing when they go swimming, so why is school different?

olgafromthevolga Mon 25-Mar-13 15:25:40

Hmm, interesting. I think I am in the camp of thinking that separating them makes sense. However, I think the no-peeking rule should apply equally to both, and I'm not sure how the boys can be expected to respect the girls privacy if privacy is a concept that doesnt seem to apply to the boys. Just because there is a reality that things arent equal doesnt mean we should accept it. Of course, I dont have daughters, so my perspective may be a little skewed.

somewhereaclockisticking Mon 25-Mar-13 16:48:30

I think girls need their privacy but I disagree with the boys being put into the corridor. Boys also have fears about their bodies and can be shy - I don't have any boys but I have friends with boys who have had issues with their bodies.

SquinkieBunnies Mon 25-Mar-13 16:51:35

I don't really see why they are changing at all. They just wear pumps for school on PE day here and do it in their normal clothes, everyone wears leggings, shirts, jeans and those in skirts usually have bike shorts underneath.
It can't be because they get hot as we live in a place where summer is upper 30's with a week or two of 40 thrown in. No one died from doing it in normal clothes and the teacher just reminds everyone to add some deodorant before they start out.
But the classroom is stinky on hot days anyway just from normal playtime, so PE adds nothing much to the smell.

YABU. Boys keep shirt on whip of trousers, replace with shorts and then whip off top and put on sports top. Completely acceptable for boys to be seen with just shorts on. At no time should anything be seen which should embarrass boys.

Girls otoh have to remove top and replace with PE shirt to cover breasts or at the very least nipples, as would be covered if say at the beach or pool, society seems it right to have bare chested boys running around in year 6 but not bare chested girls.

IloveJudgeJudy Mon 25-Mar-13 17:26:22

YABU. I teach part-time in a pretty small school and already 2 girls in Y5 have started their periods. Girls have much more need for privacy than boys (have 2 boys, 1 girl myself), but I do see your point that no-one should be allowed out into the corridor until everyone is changed (or at least no girls from the class).

CasperGutman Mon 25-Mar-13 17:32:19

It's not just in schools that there's a difference in the levels of privacy afforded to the genders. At the health club place where we go swimming the female showers have curtains, the men's don't. It's the way of the world.

It wouldn't seem unreasonable for the girls to stay in the classroom until the boys have finished changing though.

Alohomora Mon 25-Mar-13 17:38:00

I have to admit I've never gone to a school that didn't have changing rooms for PE (am originally from Germany, even my first primary school with two tiny classrooms had changing rooms) but I think it's reasonable to expect the girls to wait in the classroom until everyone has changed, and not be allowed to walk past the boys while they have their trousers round their ankles.

It's not like it would take any extra consideration or cost, and it would be more equal.

I think if the corridor is the only place for the boys to change (why not the toilets?) then no, the girls should not be allowed out of the classroom.
My DS is only in reception, but is already conscious if someone else is in the house to shut his bedroom door getting changed, we teach our children to respect their bodies, and no one should come in their safe space, so to leave boys open in this way is disrespectful of their feelings.

WeAllHaveWings Mon 25-Mar-13 17:44:58

Agree girls develop faster than boys and need privacy, but yhink generally girls are also more aware of boys bodies too and more likely to make comments.

I recently had my ds(9) at swimming when some girls from his class were there too. He didn't really notice or bother with the fact the girls were in little bikini's, but at school on Monday he was embarrassed as the girls kept telling everyone they had seen him in his swimming trunks (they were complimentary, but it still embarrassed him).

IMO both genders should be allowed to change separately from each other without intrusion.

madame they would be in their pants at some point, not naked, admittedly, but why should they feel vulnerable at all?

MandragoraWurzelstock Mon 25-Mar-13 17:51:37

It's far from ideal but I agree they should have separate changing areas and the boys need something better than a corridor.

Squinkie, it gets warm here too, I live in California and there is no school gym at my kids' old school so they do PE outside. They run around and get hot and sweaty at lunch and break and don't change clothes. School clothes/shoes should be suitable for running and climbing and jumping and whatever else.

Parents who have kids at schools that change for PE, do they change for lunch and breaks too?

manicinsomniac Mon 25-Mar-13 17:56:38

mumsneedwine a third of Y6 have their period in your DD's school?! shock That seems so high to me! Does anyone know if this is the norm? I've taught Y5 and 6 for 6 years and, as far as I know, have only come across 3 children starting their periods.

As for the original question YANBU. It is far too late for school to be teaching children that girls and boys can change together and shouldn't be embarrassed, society has already taught them that they can't change in front of a boy/girl and schools just have to deal with it now. The corridor is ridiculous ehough as it is but, if it has to happen, the girls could at least wait in the corridor.

Where I work the children go into the changing rooms every time they need to change, I've never known children of either gender to strip off in the classroom!

SnotMeReally Mon 25-Mar-13 17:56:46

I have a Y6 daughter - she and a couple of her friends are well developed for their age - and unfortunately it is true that the majority of the boys are much less physically and emotionally mature - so yes, of course these girls are a bit embarrassed of being gawped at and silly comments about bums and boobs. They are not allowed to change separately - all must change in the classroom together - hence the girls have become skilled at changing sitting on a chair and under the cover of some of their clothing and making themselves human shields for each other.

My older DD has just started her periods, lots of leakages, accidents due to her inexperience and getting used to things, so her knicks are often stained or splashed - I am so glad DD2 has not started at primary. it would be excruciatingly embarrassing for her.

It is not about shame or thinking bodies are something to be embarrased of, it is about privacy.

I parade about starkers at home, but I would not do it in public.

TumbleWeeds Mon 25-Mar-13 18:00:32

Rather than teaching them that all bodies are ok by getting changed together (which tbh isn't going to happen. It's more likely that some of the girls are going to be teased about having periods etc...) I would prefer them to be taught RESPECT. Respect for the need of privacy when getting changed for both sex.
Except that it is clear that no one thinks that boys need more privacy than what the school offers. After all at worst they are in their pants, not dissimilar than a swimming trunk.
Whereas girls need more privacy thanks to growing bodies, periods and the fact that, as a society, a girl or woman in underwear is something to be looked at whereas a boy in pants isn't.

shewhowines Mon 25-Mar-13 18:11:39


The teacher is not necessarily told. My dd and quite a few of her friends started early but the teacher wouldn't have known.

IME it is staffing issues and supervision issues that mean the boys get the corridor.

In the Uk it is the norm to change for PE and most primary schools don't have proper changing rooms. They don't change for lunch and breaks. I see your point.

Osmiornica Mon 25-Mar-13 18:11:58

I'm quite amazed that people think year 6 is young to start periods. Lots of girls in my school (including me) started in primary school between 9 and 11.

mumsneedwine Mon 25-Mar-13 18:31:02

My Dd hasn't told her teacher, and neither have her friends. He's a man and they are too embarrassed. Much as I think he should know, it's her call and her body. Out of 30 girls she says 13 have started so I was pretty accurate. Her boobs are huge and she is skinny and very conscious of any boys seeing her bra. Some of her friends are still flat as pancakes and less worried about whipping off tops. I am sure if any boys saw her in undies and went home and told parents, the school would be in trouble for letting the boy see what is pretty much a fully grown woman.
She is very sporty so always changing for sports and is very adept at changing inside her clothes.

thebody Mon 25-Mar-13 18:31:45

It's perfectly normal and very commen now to start periods at 10 and 11.

My dds did snc they are tiny. Neatly all of their friends did as well.

No idea why a teacher would need to know though if they start at home unless of accidents.

I think both sexes deserve privacy and ghat their bodies are private.

That's good safeguarding.

They should change separately and be given privacy, not a corridor snc the girls should wait.

ProudAS Mon 25-Mar-13 19:09:46

SnotMeReally get your dd1 some black knickers. They don't show stains or splashes.

lljkk Mon 25-Mar-13 19:15:33

That's weird, when I was 11 (1979) hardly anyone started before 12. Now, the only girls we know who started periods age 10-11 are tall & rather plump. The tiniest girl in DD's yr kept claiming from age 8 that she had started already: finally confessed in y6 it was a lie.

I'm in the yabu camp. British are neurotic about covering up their bodies, anyway.

stressyBessy22 Mon 25-Mar-13 19:19:11

The median age for first period is just under 13 in the UK according to lots of websites I have looked at.
Environmental influences play a part egIn poor areas where girls are overweight , the average may be less than that

Euphemia Mon 25-Mar-13 19:26:45

why not the toilets?

Because they mess around with no supervision. Ditto changing rooms.

rufusnine Mon 25-Mar-13 19:26:57

ours is girls in library, boys in class room but this is only in Y5/6 (with the library being just a bit more private than the classroom)

FamiliesShareGerms Mon 25-Mar-13 19:28:36

I don't see what is wrong with the simple suggestion that the girls should wait in the classroom until everyone is ready (side issue: where do the girls go when they are ready - through the corridor to the hall where the teacher is waiting...?)

50shadesofvomit Mon 25-Mar-13 19:31:39

Yanbu. Both girls and boys should be "protected" from the other sex seeing them in underwear.

As for piss taking- I have a dd in y5 and her friends and her know which girls have early signs of boobs, hairiness, bras etc so changing with the same sex is not always the best way to "preserve" modesty.

Euphemia Mon 25-Mar-13 19:33:38

I would imagine the teacher is in the classroom with the girls.

I agree the girls should wait until the boys are ready.

Kazooblue Mon 25-Mar-13 19:35:33


My boys are only year 4(9) and already need privacy when changing(mortified if I see anything).If we as parents have to provide privacy so do school.

Girls need privacy and so do boys. Would love to see how they get by safe guarding with children being forced to change in full view of all and sundry in a corridor.

I despair sometimes re the attitude towards boys.

IThinkOfHappyWhenIThinkOfYou Mon 25-Mar-13 19:41:06

It's all well and good to say that we shouldn't be bothered about being naked or undressing in front of people but it's unreasonable to expect a group of 10/11 yr old girls with new periods and new breasts to lead the revolution.

My dd in yr 2 is showing signs of puberty. The GP says she is old enough to be 'in the normal range' ie not precocious. She isn't fat or tall. I was 14 so I was pretty shocked.

Girls tend to develop sooner and have more to 'hide' than boys so if forced to choose between 2 places with differing amount of privacy then I would choose the most private for the girls. The problem is nothing is being done to get the boys a more private area.

I have more ds's than dd's

Inertia Mon 25-Mar-13 19:42:03

We probably should , as a society, have a healthier attitude towards our bodies.

However, I don't believe we should insist that adolescent children should be the trailblazers for that change , and force them to confront changes in their own and others' bodies by failing to afford them privacy.

Kazooblue Mon 25-Mar-13 19:43:48

Sorry it is unacceptable.They'll should simply take it in turns and read in the corridor if needs be.

StuntGirl Mon 25-Mar-13 19:52:57

YANBU. Both should be afforded the same privacy.

TwllBach Mon 25-Mar-13 19:53:25

In my school the rules are that once they reach year four, children should change separately. I thought that was 'The Law' but maybe it's just a school rule?

In practise, what that means is that I send the girls off to get changed in the toilets and the boys stay in class. I only do it this way because the girls in my class are far more sensible than the boys grin luckily for me though, our toilets are close enough for me to hover between the classroom and the toilets, so neither group are particularly unsupervised.

TwllBach Mon 25-Mar-13 19:54:48

... Missed the point of the OP completely grin

I think the girls should be made to wait, it's only fair. If my girls finish before my boys, they wait with a book in the 'library' which is the area outside the classroom.

Wellthen Mon 25-Mar-13 20:24:52

Girls and boys should have the same amount of privacy so the corridor is simply not a good place for changing as it is a public area. I do agree that privacy does not equal shame and that we cant decide for someone what they are comfortable with. But I also think this attitude can make some children worry unnecessarily and associate body awareness and embarasment with being grown up. Girls get very squealy - 'ooooh he's looking!' - because they think it looks cool. By choice I would simply have children change in the cloakroom so that those who want to change privately can do so without much fuss as the toilets are next door.

As a child I changed with the boys until secondary school but I remember a girl in our class who was tall and had almost fully developed breasts (they were probably bigger than mine are now as an adult). She simply discretely slipped out to the toilets when we changed. No fuss.

Oh and for those asking 'why do they change anyway?' at uni I was told that it was traditionally so that teachers could check children for bruises and other injuries given to them by their loving families.

Emilythornesbff Mon 25-Mar-13 20:34:37

Almost every primary school thread I read makes me Feel glum about my DCs starting school.
I must be such an old fuddy fuddy. It never occurred to me that a school wouldn't have changing rooms.
I am in for a shock aren't I?

Euphemia Mon 25-Mar-13 21:19:14

Emily Changing rooms are horrendous - just an excuse to muck about.

lilackaty Mon 25-Mar-13 21:41:29

YANBU - the girls should wait until the boys are all ready or they need to find another room to use.
As a side note, the last time my ds & his friends (year4&5) were left alone to change, they all did a willy dance. I know this is irrelevant but it amused me greatly, particularly as it occured immediately after they had closed the curtains to stop girls peeking in!

shewhowines Mon 25-Mar-13 21:51:32

But thats exactly why they're not sent off to the toilets. They do need a degree of supervision. The teacher can do that in the corridor.

Especially the less "angelic" kids shall we say.

ICBINEG Wed 27-Mar-13 12:49:43

I don't understand why girls should be ashamed of proto-breasts.

Or why girls are considered less likely to point stare and be rude about them than boys.

Euphemia Wed 27-Mar-13 20:44:42

I don't understand why girls should be ashamed of proto-breasts.

I think it's about being conscious of looking different to other girls, being aware that their bodies are changing. They're perhaps uncomfortable with the changes, but I wouldn't go as far as to say they're ashamed.

cory Wed 27-Mar-13 22:28:51

Starting your periods at 11 wasn't even that uncommon when I was a child in the 60s; I did and I was not the only one. Wouldn't have thought to tell the teacher though.

sandylion Wed 27-Mar-13 22:29:33

Yabu children are beastly to each other. I had tits at 11 and was teased chronically by the boys.

Send the boys out I say!

soverylucky Wed 27-Mar-13 22:53:48

The boys and girls should change separately at that age (if they wish) and the privacy of those children should be respected.

When I was in year 6 I had started my periods and was wearing a bra as were several friends - this was over 20 years ago. There was zero understanding to my situation back then. I am dismayed to see some of the comments at the start of this thread.

ICBINEG Thu 28-Mar-13 00:13:18

I feel like there are two paths. Take everything that is different and hide it. Or celebrate difference.

If you have a different looking body to your peers, well maybe you should hide it to avoid comment. But what if you cant hide it? What if you are different in a way that can't be hidden? What if it is your face, or a disability?

I think that every time some one says we should support kids to hide their differences we are making the lives of those who cant a little bit worse.

It would be great if kids learned to accept difference and not make fun of it. They can't do that in an environment where everything is hidden and private, which if anything re-enforces the message that difference is wrong.

Lilipaddle Thu 28-Mar-13 01:04:58

ICBINEG, I understand your point about needing to accept difference, but there is also a need to teach children, especially girls but also boys, to have privacy about their bodies.
We shouldn't be teaching them to just strip off around anyone and everyone. I think it is good to teach them that there are different boundaries with same sex and the opposite sex when it comes to appropriate undress.

sashh Thu 28-Mar-13 02:44:04

That's weird, when I was 11 (1979) hardly anyone started before 12

I was 11 in 1978, I don't think I was the first to start at that age. We certainly had the sani bins in junior school.

School clothes/shoes should be suitable for running and climbing and jumping and whatever else.

But this is the UK where we put 5 year olds in a shirt and tie and 'proper' school shoes.

Maltamum Fri 11-Oct-13 23:07:25

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