The new year has started with a row over short skirts at one Manchester secondary school.
Nicola Doward, headteacher at Stretford High School, Trafford, has launched what she has described as a “crackdown on standards”.
As a result, some girls at the school have been played in isolation because, parents say, there was a disagreement over the length of their skirts.
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School rules say skirts should be black or grey and “knee length”. Girls arriving with skirts that didn’t meet the regulations were told to either replace it themselves or wear a new one provided by school. Failure to do so meant they were put in isolation.
One furious mum said her daughter's skirt met the “knee length” requirement, but teachers accept it. When the child refused to change into an alternative skirt, she was reportedly put in isolation for the whole day.
"This is a draconian policy and nothing about what my daughter wears is inappropriate," said the mum. "Her skirt is knee length and there was no need to change into a new school skirt.
"But because she didn't, she had to go into isolation where teachers spoke out how disappointed they are in them.
"These are young impressionable girls and her body is changing. She has an eating disorder already and she doesn't need teachers telling them how they can dress."
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Another mum accepted that her daughter's skirt was “mid thigh” length, but said that was because she has long legs and a larger size wouldn't fit on the waist, but said it had never been an issue until now.
The mum said: "She got changed at home and her skirt was fine. Just because she refused to change into something she wasn't comfortable in, she got put in isolation. It's just an excuse for a crackdown as far as I can tell.
"One of the reasons staff spoke about was it being unhygienic, but I think it's very wrong for them to suggest to young girls that they're being unhygienic. Some of the comments my daughter said were made are very misogynistic."
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The mum-of-two added: "The whole thing is ridiculous. Yes, when pupils go to a school the parents agree to abide by the uniform policy – I don't disagree with a uniform at all – I think it's a good thing, but this seems to have been changed mid year without any consultation and that's not acceptable."
The headteacher told the Manchester Evening News that out of 952 pupils, there were 27 cases of students not having correct uniform – from issues with jewellery and ties, to boys wearing trainers instead of shoes.
"Students were not put in isolation for having a short skirt," she added. "If they were put in isolation it was for refusal to cooperate with school rules. We have given them the opportunity to comply.
"Most of our parents and pupils understand that in order for school to run well, we have to have rules."
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