Girls not allowed to wear trousers to school...anyone with experience?

(43 Posts)
21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 20:04:54

A few months ago my daughter started at her new school for 7-11 year olds. The uniform policy states that only Skirts are allowed for girls. We approached the school and were told that Governing Body would be reviewing the Uniform policy. They sent out a general questionaire that asked parents if they were happy with the current uniform. Less than 50% of parents responded. The results of this review have now come through:

"After a lengthy discussion particularly on the pros and cons of allowing girls to wear trousers, the Governing Body has decided not to make any change to the school uniform but to update and clarify the guidance for parents... We have also supported a proposal that during cold weather girls should be allowed to travel to and from school in trousers with the option to change at the beginning and end of the school day."

I have seen the following article
but was wondering if anyone else out there had experience dealing with Governing Bodies on this issue that could help us respond to this. If there is anyone who knows the "cons" of allowing girls to wear trousers I would also love to know.

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:08:16

A state primary cannot enforce a uniform let alone trousers. If it is a private school they can do what they like.

No state secondary would be daft enough to ban trousers for girls these days.

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 20:09:38

It is a state primary - can you tell me where you get your information so I can include it in our letter to them. Thanks!

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 20:10:47

I should make it clear that this is the Governing Body ("elected by the Parents") and not the school that are responsible for the policy

Normantebbit Fri 04-Mar-11 20:11:21

Certainly in Scotland they cannot force a uniform in Primary school

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:14:47

I'm googling now - will try to find out but there will be legislation that covers it.

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:19:11

this may help

It is down to the governing body as there is no specific legislation but they cannot fall foul of the Sex Discrimination Act -which banning trousers would, presumably.

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 20:26:53

Thanks surryfunge. I can't believe that this is still an issue.

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:29:40

I know, did they give any justification for being so behind the times?

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 20:35:36

No; only what you see in the quote. They did say they had asked the girls if they wanted to wear trousers and that only 3 had replied that they wanted to.

When the various Mums who are looking into this asked their children if they had been asked; the kids all said they had not been asked.

I would have like the consultation document to specifically ask:
Should girls be allowed to wear trousers:
strong agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree.
However all they asked were general "what do you like/dislike about the uniform" type questions.

ratspeaker Fri 04-Mar-11 20:35:50

Thought this kind of thinking died out when i left school
In the mid 70s!

AliceWorld Fri 04-Mar-11 20:42:18

Me too. I have experience of fighting it, in the 90s. Can't believe women still have to.

AliceWorld Fri 04-Mar-11 20:42:44

As in they shouldn't have to. Not as in I don't believe you.

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:48:43

Yes, I remember the debate at my secondary school (and we won the right to wear maroon crimplene trousers)in 1979.

I had the same argument in 1989 when I started teaching as to whether a female member of staff should be allowed to wear trousers. I thought it was unbelievable then.

I changed careers in 1996 to policing and was issued with a skirt (though they were quickly disposed of then).

BodleianBabe Fri 04-Mar-11 20:55:05

Oh yes scurryfung when I joined the Police in 1988 they only issued you with skirts. I had to put a special report in asking to be issued with trousers and to be allowed to wear them whilst on duty!!

My Sgt ripped my report up and said I couldn't have them because he didn't like women wearing trousers!!!

I don't think they even issue skirts to Police women now??!

Very surprised that a state primary is enforcing a no trouser rule!!!

McDreamy Fri 04-Mar-11 20:58:21

Girls aren't allowed to wear trousers or boots at our school (state primary). You are not alone.

scurryfunge Fri 04-Mar-11 20:58:44

Yes, they are not issued now. Neither are the lovely leather zip up handbags with a mini truncheon to fit in them grin.

TheCrackFox Fri 04-Mar-11 21:01:16

I can't believe that this is still happening.

I had to wear a skirt to high school (1985-1991) and I had assumed that this practice had died out.

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 21:07:19

If the AIBU board is anything to go by it is quite common...what gets me is that the Governing body is largely female. Is it possible to do a Freedom of info request to get minutes of a school board meeting?

Hulababy Fri 04-Mar-11 21:10:28

State priaries in England cannot enforce any uniform.

DD goes to a private primary school and that has a very strict unifomr code, which includes a pinafore in infants and a skirt in juniors. Which chose the school and have no problemwith the uniform.

And ime, as an adult, I actually don't see the arguement regards the cold. Other arguements maybe but not cod - it doesn't weigh up for me. Trousers are, ime, not warmer than a skirt and tights. Both myself and my DD would and do choose skirt and tights on a cold day than trousers. Also trousers on a wet day are horri as the wet seeps up the bottom if the trousers so much as touch the floor briefly.

When I was in secondary school (90s) we had an almighty rumpus when us girls decided enough was enough to gym knickers and gym skirts for PE instead of an option for shorts.

Pupil power eventually made them see sense so perhaps you could ask some of the girls to write their reasons for wanting trousers. Kind of hard to say no to that, you'd think...?

AliceWorld Fri 04-Mar-11 21:13:58

Re FOI, believe you can. Any public body which they are. You need to word it specifically.

HerBeX Fri 04-Mar-11 21:16:17

Just phone the Equal Opportunities Commission. They'll give you the info you need to deal with this bunch of tossers.
Can't believe this still carries on, where the hell have these people been?

HerBeX Fri 04-Mar-11 21:17:45

My DD prefers trousers because then she can do handstands without anyone seeing her knickers.

If she's wearing a skirt, she doesn't do handstands that day.

Doesn't fit in with their healthy schools policy if they are insisting on girls wearing uniform which may inhibit their physical movement.

21stcentury Fri 04-Mar-11 21:21:14

Thanks Alice and HerBeX,, I'll get on to it Monday.

Snorbs Fri 04-Mar-11 21:30:04

This is ridiculous. I would ask them in very strong terms how this decision fits with their legal duty to ensure that the school does not discriminate based on sex.

LeninGrad Fri 04-Mar-11 21:32:21

I have experience, me at secondary 20 years ago, I wore trousers anyway but it caused all manner of fuss, cannot believe this is still an issue, it's infuriating.

tigerbear Fri 04-Mar-11 21:39:32

I'm shocked tbh - what is their reasoning that girls shouldn't wear trousers? Why ever not?
What would happen if you sent you DD in trousers anyway?

Unrulysun Fri 04-Mar-11 22:14:59

A friend of mine went on a course at a school the other day and was told asked not to wear trousers as it is a Jewish school. I was biscuit when she told me.

amiheartless Fri 04-Mar-11 22:33:26

I can't believe this still goes on OP how frustrating for you.

when I was at school we had a really creepy HM he tried to force girls to wear skirts. because ..wait for it...
Some girls didnt have the figures for tight trousers, shock IHO

candleshoe Fri 04-Mar-11 22:44:19

This link takes you to Human Rights Commission Opinion on this issue.

The trouble seems to be that this has been recently clouded by 'religious' dress issues and so has become more restrictive not less.

Uniform is utterly unenforceable, legally, at Primary Schools.

Helzapoppin Sat 05-Mar-11 10:51:03

If you want to take this further, I would contact the local authority and ask for their view on the matter. I would mention that it is an equal opportunities issue, both in terms of gender, but also because girls from certain cultures may feel very uncomfortable being forced to wear skirts. I suspect that they would take a very dim view of such a silly (and I think a little illaegal) rule.

Unrulysun- that seems to be the case in some Jewish schools. I remember a friend who works for a local authority who had to visit a Jewish school having to get her outfit 'approved of' before she went in. Bizarre.

SardineQueen Sat 05-Mar-11 16:34:43


Whether it is legally enforcable or not is interesting but not that much use as many parents would not send their children in in something that was not regulation IYSWIM. So in theory, it's good to know, in practice, it doesn't help.

I have no idea what the girls wear at the primaires I've put DD down for.

OP surely they should show you the minutes of the meeting if you ask, needing a FOI request for it seems well overboard! Mind you again, I've not got children at school yet so maybe they aren't very transparent...

Of course girls should be able to wear trousers. And boys skirts...

21stcentury Mon 07-Mar-11 15:29:41

Tigerbear - no reason was given, just that the pro's and con's had been debated...I have trawled a whole lot of past threads about this and the only con's I have seen are:
1) Not smart (!?) to have a mix for girls
2) Trouser legs getting wet if they are too long
3) Not traditional
4) Arguments in the morning regarding choice of Trouser/skirt; apparently the girls go through phases of what is cool or not cool.

None of these stack up against the practical Pro's as far as I can see, never mind the basic principle.

There’s a group of us getting together next week to decide next steps - I'll update you once the situation moves on again.

ZZZenAgain Mon 07-Mar-11 15:31:16

absolutely ridiculous for girls to have to wear a skirt and not be allowed to wear trousers. Should at least be an option

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 07-Mar-11 16:52:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NoodlesMam Mon 07-Mar-11 17:12:45

I know of a secondary school where there is a 'no skirts' policy! The girls were coming in with them like belts and the school eventually got sick and banned them. My DD1 attends a Catholic all girls school and there's a skirts only policy. TBH I am sick of buying bloody tights!!! If she were able to wear trousers these would last a whole lot longer than the school policy opaque tights. I don't think it bothers DD1 now she's older and not cartwheeling round the playground but when she was younger she would insist on trousers and if that had been a problem I would've fought for her right to wear them. Apart from the fact it's completely sexist I think trousers are much more comfortable - no worries about coming out the toilet with the back of your skirt tucked into your knickers or worries of it riding up!

Avantia Mon 07-Mar-11 17:15:02

I would question whether it is down to the Governors of the school to make this decison - surely its up to the head teacher .

Perhaps someone could through some light on that - I have just started as a Governor would say its not down to us , howvever will listen to Governors of more experience .

candleshoe Mon 07-Mar-11 18:47:16

stewiegriffithsmom - some very good points well made. My senior school had clothes guidelines don't dress like a slut but no uniform.

21stcentury Sat 10-Sep-11 18:11:15

I said I would update when there was progress... 6 months later and still very little. After numerous letters and e-mails, we finally had a face to face meeting with the Chair of the Board and the Head of the School this week.

They offered to discuss possibly holding a new consultation next year, where the specific question regarding trousers would be put to parents. Our point is: this is a discriminatory practise and thus the Board of Governers have a duty to end the injustice now, rather than hide behind what might be the opinion of the parents (although I doubt the majority of the parents will object to the change). The Board could, as I understand it, discuss this before the next BoG meeting and take the decision to implement the change at the next meeting. Instead as we currently stand, there will be a minumum of another 6 - 9 months before any action is taken.

We have drafted a letter setting out our objections purely on the basis of this being discriminatory and asking them to reconsider, copying the Local Authority and Local MP. We will then look to contact external organisations for support.

So if anyone out there is going through anything similar, has insight into the workings of School Boards or has any suggestions on what to do next I would love to hear from them.

Wow SGM: you distilled everything I have ever thought about uniforms in a very concise way. Brilliant. Not that it helps me much, Mexico is extremely uniform obssessed -rather like the UK in this way- and casual sexist discrimintation in girls and boys uniforms is rarely questioned. My dc's school are in for a nasty interview with me on the subject quite soon.

21st century: sorry for the hijack. I hope you get it resolved. I hated wearing my uniform and especially the skirt at my school in the 80s. We tried civil disobedience en masse, and after a while we managed it. But that was secondary school. Primary is much more difficult to negotiate. Keep going and best of luck.

nailak Sat 10-Sep-11 18:44:00

i went to a girls school in late 90s, had to wear kilt, we pondered fighting for the right to wear trousers, but decided they would probably make us wear ugly pleated trousers, that were worse then kilts...

sarahtigh Sat 10-Sep-11 21:50:23

there was an article in the news earlier this week about a school that wanted to ban girls wearing skirts and insist they wear trousers , there is uproar from some girl pupils who do not want to be forced to wear trousers, but thi was a secondary where i guess the skirts were what my father would refer to as "wide belts" the other thing is typical teenagers will want to wear skirts if they suggest banning them and would want to wear trousers if skirts enforced
i am sure they could alter rules stating that skirts must no more than 10cm above the knee or whatever at least and that trousers must not trail on floor

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