I just stumbled across an article about a head teacher in the Isle of Wight who has introduced a school rule of “skirts no shorter than knee length“. It appears he also had words with his female staff about the tightness of their tops. He’s by no means sexist… Dr Rory Fox simply explains that boys dress code is much easier to outline, whereas girls? There’s a huge grey area. So I thought I’d weigh in with my two cents.
I went to an all girls school. When I started, our uniform was a knee length straight skirt and a pinstripe white and green shirt. I quite liked that uniform. However, I was 9. I wasn’t the problem in that uniform. The older girls, they were hitching their skirts up, rolling up the waist band so when they left home, they were wearing knee length skirts. When they got to school, they were wearing mini skirts. Unlike Dr Fox, our head teacher simply changed the uniform. We had a skirt we couldn’t hitch up. For the remainder of my school life, I wore a kilt.
I’d have much rather Dr Fox’s rule. But not only did I go to an all girls school, I went to a private school, so I’m sure parents would have been furious if their girls were sent home… think of all the money they’re wasting where they’re paying for their girls education. I’m sure if the girls of that school were threatened with a uniform change to a kilt, they might think twice about super short skirts.
But I can see the other side of that coin. Young girls have terrible role models. Take one look at Miley Cyrus or look at the girls their male crushes date. Are they wearing knee length, age appropriate clothing? Look at all the images on TV, the characters in adverts and TV shows. Are they wearing tasteful clothes, that cover everything and then a little bit more? These are the images we’re giving kids to aspire to. They’re impressionable, how can they really know what’s wrong when they’re bombarded with images like that? That’s why someone has to be the bad guy. Whether it’s a parent or head teacher, someone needs to take the situation in hand.
But what about their immediate role models? How can the kids be expected to dress appropriately if the staff they encounter everyday don’t? It’s like a “do what I say, not what I do” scenario. Do you think you command respect that way? No! He’s totally right to have words with staff too. I’ve just started working in schools and I spend so much longer carefully selecting what I’m going to wear. I have tattoos to cover up, and I’m aware that I’m being seen as a teacher, even though I’m there as support staff. I wouldn’t be seen dead in the clothes I wear out with my friends in school. I recognise that I need to be smart and presentable and set a good example to the kids.
Granted, I don’t take the same care in youth club, and perhaps I should. But I do have a more active role in that situation and my smart clothes would be out of place (and quickly ruined).
I guess, in short, I totally back the decision Dr Rory Fox has made, and think perhaps some other head teachers should follow his lead. Would some modesty really be the end of the world?