'˜End ban on girl pupils wearing skirts,' says education union

A union has called for a ban on female pupils wearing skirts to be scrapped - claiming it is sexual discrimination.

Stock shot of a school girl in uniform. Picture: John Devlin

The National Education Union said that skirt bans seem like a new form of ‘discrimination’ against women.

It says female pupils should be allowed to wear clothes that are ‘acceptable in wider society’.

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Their comments were made on the back of several British secondary schools banning skirts in their dress code.

This includes three of the five state schools on the isle of Jersey - Haute Vallée, Grainville and Hautlieu - who all insist that girls now wear trousers.

One concerned mother said that she feared that female pupils were being treated as though they were gender neutral and the ‘female brand’ was being eroded.

She added: “I worry if this is continued to be accepted, then what’s coming next? Short hair for everyone?

“It is taking away a choice from the girls to wear a skirt and treating all girls as gender neutral. I think in this time and age it is not acceptable that this is happening to our girls.

“Those three out of the five States schools who have banned them need to review this and allow our children to make a choice as to whether they want to wear a skirt, trousers or shorts.

“If someone wants to be treated as gender neutral, then this is absolutely fine, but don’t treat all girls as gender neutral by removing the choice for them.”

Brendan Carolan, the president of the National Education Union in Jersey, said that it was ‘ironic’ that girls were now being banned from wearing skirts.

He said: “The NEU would be against such bans, arguing that what is considered fully acceptable clothing in wider society should not be seen as inappropriate by schools, “It seems ironic that after having fought for the right to wear trousers perhaps 50 to 60 years ago women would suddenly be losing the right to wear skirts. It’s as if we are replacing one form of discrimination with another.”

Andy Woolley, the NEU’s south-west regional secretary, added that a ‘blanket ban’ was not the right way to deal with any problems skirt-wearing students might cause.

He added: “I know that some schools in the UK have said that they have imposed bans because of upskirting [taking photos up girls’ skirts].

“But if any students are being disruptive or provocative, then that needs to be dealt with individually, not with a blanket ban. That is like banning jewellery to stop people being mugged.

“As long as the students are smart and dressed appropriately, that is fine. Schools have rules about skirt length and they are right to.’ A States spokeswoman said that dress code and uniform was a ‘matter for individual schools’.

She added: “Students at JCG can choose to wear either skirts or trousers. It is up to students as individuals to choose.

“At Grainville School, however, all students wear trousers and skirts are not part of the uniform. Grainville School say they offer an active curriculum and trousers are more comfortable and practical.”

The headmasters of Hautlieu and Haute Vallée were approached for comment but did not respond.