Schoolboys can wear skirts – but not shorts – under ‘gender neutral’ uniform rules

·4-min read
Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk has introduced a 'gender neutral' uniform policy, giving boys the option to wear skirts in the hot weather - East Anglia News Service
Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk has introduced a 'gender neutral' uniform policy, giving boys the option to wear skirts in the hot weather - East Anglia News Service

Schoolboys have been told that they can wear skirts but not shorts in summer, prompting fury from parents over gender neutral uniforms.

The changes were introduced at Wymondham High Academy in Norfolk after complaints that boys were being forced to wear long trousers in high temperatures.

Parents had called for a relaxation to allow them to wear shorts instead on hot days during the summer.

The school agreed to review its uniform rules, however, it introduced a gender neutral policy, permitting boys and girls to wear trousers or skirts – and neither to wear shorts.

Jonathan Rockey, the headteacher of the 1,705-pupil school, defended the new policy as "something we are very proud of" and insisted parents had been consulted.

However, the move, which is set to be introduced at the start of next term, has angered many.

The school's new uniform policy, which was described as one parent as 'insane' - East Anglia News Service
The school's new uniform policy, which was described as one parent as 'insane' - East Anglia News Service

One parent, who asked not to be named, described it as "insane", adding: "The school appears to be deaf to parents clearly voicing concerns on this matter.

"It is not in our children's best interest to be overdressed and overheated in the summer. This is not conducive to an effective learning environment and I believe it is a health and safety issue."

Another parent said: "We have been repeatedly asking year after year for shorts to be added to the uniform.

"This is because girls can currently wear a skirt in the summer but boys have to wear trousers all year around… Offering a skirt as an option is not gender neutral. It would be gender neutral to offer both boys and girls the option of a skirt or shorts.

A third parent added: "I don't have any issues with boys wearing skirts. That isn't the problem here. I'm sure many girls would also like the opportunity to wear shorts instead of trousers in hotter months."

The new uniform policy was introduced after more than 400 parents took part in a survey, with a large number calling for a summer uniform to be introduced at the school, which was rated "good", according to its latest Ofsted inspection in 2017.

The exercise produced just two changes - allowing boys and girls to wear trousers or skirts, and requiring girls to wear ties as well as boys.

The move is set to be introduced at the start of next term at Wymondham High, to many parents' anger - East Anglia News Service
The move is set to be introduced at the start of next term at Wymondham High, to many parents' anger - East Anglia News Service

In a statement, the headteacher said:  "We had a huge response to the questions and that was much appreciated.

"Like any consultation, there will be differing views and the academy and governors always consider these. We take all feedback seriously.

"Many parents were supportive of us considering a 'summer uniform', which we will consider for 2023-24. In the short term, we have enabled pupils to remove their blazers during hot weather.

"Changing everything about our uniform in one go, especially with the current financial concerns, would not be sensible so we are able to stage changes over a period of time.

"We will, from September, have a gender neutral dress code across the Academy, which is something we are very proud of."

'Schools are getting confused'

Responding to the move, Dr Jane Hamlin, the president of Beaumont Society charity which supports trans people, said: “I am all in favour of choice and equality if schools insist on having a uniform, but I would be happier if all students, however they identify, having a choice between trousers, skirts or shorts.

“The policy as described in the article seems designed to cause controversy - or conformity - rather than provide a real choice.”

However, Maya Forstater, the co-founder of the campaign group, Sex Matters, said: “Schools should be able to have clear rules for boys and girls that meet everyone's needs. This situation shows how schools are getting confused.

“Gender neutral toilets that force girls to share with boys don't suit girls. A policy that boys can wear skirts if the weather is too hot for trousers doesn't suit boys.”

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