British school boys must now wear skirts during the hot summer months as part of a ‘gender-neutral’ uniform policy, or risk being suspended.
Chiltern Edge Secondary School in Oxfordshire is one of many schools that has banned boys from wearing shorts, insisting that they wear skirts instead.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: Leaders at the school in Sonning Common introduced a ‘more formal’ uniform policy at the beginning of the academic year that stipulated that the only leg wear permitted was trousers or skirts.
Following the change, parent Alastair Vince-Porteous asked staff if his son could wear tailored shorts – but the school said that they were not part of the uniform. The bemused father was then told that the uniform policy was ‘gender-neutral’ and boys could of course wear a skirt if they wished.
The move follows a trend for schools adopting gender-neutral policies to help transgender pupils feel more welcome. Many schools now say skirts and trousers can be worn by either gender. Under the Equality Act, schools have a duty to protect transgender students from discrimination.
This case came to light at the weekend, as temperatures are set to soar to 26C (79F) next week. Mr Vince-Porteous said: ‘I was told shorts are not part of the uniform. It’s a shame we can’t be more grown up about it, we aren’t asking for ra-ra skirts or skinny jeans, just grey tailored shorts for two months a year, it’s not a big deal.
‘I know that in the past other schools have worn skirts so I asked if my son was able to do that – and the school said yes.’ Fellow parent Joanne Muday said: ‘It’s nuts to make the kids wear blazers and ties when it gets very hot.’
The introduction of the new uniform policy came after the school was branded inadequate by Ofsted. In August the school – which has the capacity for 900 pupils, but as of January last year had only 507 – will join the Maiden Erlegh Trust and become an academy. Students hail from nearby areas such as Caversham, Reading and Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency.
Headteacher Moira Green said: ‘In September 2017, with the support of parents, Chiltern Edge made the decision to move to a more formal uniform. This has been a success. Maiden Erlegh Trust, in preparation for September 2018, wholeheartedly support Chiltern Edge’s adoption of a more formal uniform.’