School Uniforms: is it that bad to wear a skirt?

Whilst looking through some news arcitles this week, one stuck out in my mind. The Telegraph (2017) posted an arcitle online titled ‘Head teacher in sexism row over plan to force girls to wear skirts as trousers are ‘too tight”. This then got me thinking about school uniforms and what children think of them.

School Friends and I

Through my time at school, we never had a the option to wear trousers. In primary, we could choose between a pinafore or skirt with a shirt and tie, and in secondary we had to wear a knee length skirt. In my own opinion, I thought we looked very smart when we were out on trips, as we all looked the same and you could easily recognise us. However, I do see the appeal of girls wearing trousers. You can feel more free to move around, whereas with a skirt you are worried it would blow up. But does this make the head teacher sexist if she’d prefer the girls to wear skirts?

The argument in this article is that the girls are wearing too tight trousers, including tight leggings and denim bottoms. Now, I am all for a pair of comfortable leggings, however the school has set out clear boundaries regarding what can and cannot be worn so surely that should be respected. Boys were not seen coming in with tight trousers, or their uniform would have to be sorted too. The new skirts had been sourced at a very reasonable price so that families would be able to purchase them for their daughters.

During my placement in first year, I went to a primary school where the girls were able to wear skirts or trousers, but they were also given the option of shirts and ties or a polo shirt. I personally believe that by giving the children the option  of wearing a shirt or polo is much more important than the argument between skirts and trousers. By allowing the child to be comfortable, you are making school more enjoyable and therefore the child is more likely to get involved with their learning.

Do children really need uniforms? This is a difficult topic I think. Causro (1996) highlights the different views regarding uniforms in school. One point he makes for uniforms is that it can increase self-esteem. This is because if the child is coming into school in their uniform, they feel that they are on the same level as everyone else. Whereas if they were to come in with their own clothes, they may be worried that other children may judge them for not having the latest trends. However, one of the arguments he also has against uniforms is the price of uniforms. I understand that it can be very difficult for families when the new year beings, especially if they have multiple children at school age. Uniforms and school goods can cost a lot if money, so children may end up wearing their tatters old shoes until a parent can buy them a new pair.

Overall, I think it is important to take into consideration the uniform code that is set out by the school, and abide by it as best as possible. I do not believe that someone is sexist either, simply because they would like the girls to wear skirts instead of tight trousers. However, what is most important is that we are more  concerned about how the child is doing in their home life and work, instead of what they are wearing.

Reference

Caruso, P. (1996) “Individuality vs. Conformity: The issue behind school uniforms,” NASSP Bulletin, 80(581), pp. 83–88. doi: 10.1177/019263659608058121.

Telegraph (2017) Head teacher in sexism row over plan to force girls to wear skirts as trousers are ‘too tight’. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/20/head-teacher-sexism-row-plan-force-girls-wear-skirts-trousers/amp/ (Accessed: 20 Feb 2017).

8 thoughts on “School Uniforms: is it that bad to wear a skirt?

  1. Dr Fi McGarry

    I have never been a fan of school uniform, full stop. I have many reasons for this, which I won’t bore you with right now. What concerns me in this article is the “sexism” aspect of the discussion . Before I start my rant, I should say that I think most (not all) school uniforms are sexist to begin with, being based, as they are, on standard male dress codes (shirts, ties etc: not a female mode of dress) . That aside, I think you are right, if the school insists on a particular dress code for males (trousers) and a similar one for females (skirts) that is not sexist. They are both being subjected to comparable restrictions. That does not mean I agree with the HT in the article – it means I agree with your conclusion about the article!

    Reply
    1. Amy Turner Post author

      Thank you Fi, I think it is ridiculous that the report uses the word ‘sexist’, however, I feel that they have put it in so that more people will click on the article, such as myself! It does raise valid arguments regarding uniform, which is great to discuss with others to see how they view the topic.

      Reply
  2. Erika

    Interesting! What is the rationale for wearing a skirt for girls, in your opinion? I think you are sitting on the fence a bit with this debate (you’d want to be wearing trousers for that!!)….I want to really know what you think! Maybe we’ll discuss it one day.

    Reply
    1. Amy Turner Post author

      I personally feel that a skirt makes a girl look smart when worn correctly. I’m not saying that they don’t look smart in trousers, but to me, trousers are more of a relaxed item. However this may be due to only wearing them outside of a professional environment. What I find is most important is that the outfit is appropriate for the job, so I wouldn’t expect someone in the health care profession to wear a skirt! Yes, I would love to discuss this!

      Reply
  3. Susan Buckman

    This is such a hotly debated subject. It’s great that you are engaging with these subjects. I take your point about abiding by the school’s rules, although I personally have some doubts about the benefits. In second year education studies we will look at this issues.

    Reply
  4. Carrie McLennan

    it’s great to see you referencing to underpin your point here. This is an interesting debate. It is worth thinking whether the whole uniform debate is particular to our society (and others which expect uniform). Time spent in schools in Europe where no uniforms are worn can soon dispel the issues surrounding peer pressure and non-uniform.

    Reply
    1. Amy Turner Post author

      Thank you Carrie. I do think there are a lot of views regarding this topic in the UK and abroad such as America. I would love to experience the Education systems outside the UK, especially to see what difference uniform makes for them.

      Reply
  5. Tricia

    It’s interesting that you have so many comments here from the female staff. Is this a female only issue? Personally I always hated wearing skirts and was relieved when our school uniform was scrapped when I went into 3rd year. But up until then everyone looked the same (pretty much) and suddenly there were references being made to where clothes were bought and how much they cost, etc. Despite this being several (or maybe a few more) years ago, the same issue remains.

    Reply

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