St Albans pupil taking strides to end school's trouser rule

PUBLISHED: 20:00 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

REFUSING to let girls wear trousers to school is unfair and old-fashioned , an aggrieved secondary school pupil has complained. According to strict uniform rules at Parmiter s School in Garston, girls in Years Seven to 11 are only allowed to wear skirts

REFUSING to let girls wear trousers to school is "unfair and old-fashioned", an aggrieved secondary school pupil has complained.

According to strict uniform rules at Parmiter's School in Garston, girls in Years Seven to 11 are only allowed to wear skirts to school and, despite several protests against it over the past couple of years, headmaster Brian Coulshed is apparently unwilling to amend the rule.

A pupil at the school, who did not wish to be named, said that she couldn't understand the reasoning behind it: "If you're in class and doing your work, then what does it matter if you're wearing trousers? My friends and I can understand why Parmiter's would want to enforce a strict uniform code but we can't see how trouser-clad girls would impinge upon the school's appearance in any way."

She added: "What's more, aside from not allowing us access to something that comes as standard for boys, the skirts are really uncomfortable because the style is so strange. You end up having to wear them too far up your waist and then you get told off for having a short skirt!"

The school's website notes that girls in Years Seven to 11 must wear a navy blue skirt "to be purchased from the official school outfitters", whereas boys are told to wear dark grey or black trousers apparently from a retailer of their choice.

When asked why the rule was in place, Mr Coulshed said: "Parmiter's has a very distinctive and smart uniform and the specific requirements for girls and boys are made very clear to all parents and to the students before they are admitted to the school."

He added: "It is our intention to review the style of the school skirt this year as part of regular monitoring of our policy and practice. A number of girls from various year groups will be involved in this review."

A spokesperson from The Equality and Human Rights Commission said that schools were allowed to set rules about what pupils should and should not wear but those rules should take account of the right to "free expression."

She added: "In the light of current conventions on dress, a court may decide that it would be less favourable treatment on grounds of sex to deny girls the choice of wearing trousers as a school uniform option. This is because trousers are conventional dress for women, so there is a strong argument that it would be unlawful sex discrimination to deny a girl the opportunity to wear smart trousers as an alternative to skirts as part of a uniform code."

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