Over the past few years, schoolgirl’s hemlines have been creeping up consistly. So much so that the average skirts end around 6 inches above the knee, a rise of 3 inches from 5 years ago according to a recent study. It is quite easy to see here that with skirts getting shorter, it’s becoming harder and harder to police, and it’s feared that new uniform rules will not make matters any easier.
For those who aren’t aware, Education Minister David Laws announced new guidelines on school uniforms, including guidance to end the practice of using a single uniform supplier in a bid to help the reduction of uniform costs for parents. He said: “The fact, for example, that it is too easy for schools to have these single supplier arrangements where parents can end up paying more than they need to. And there are also things that we feel we should get rid of. For example, it’s possible at the moment to have cash back arrangements where schools can have these arrangements with single suppliers and in return get some of the profit from the business.”
Parents say that they are fighting a losing battle and teachers fear that the Education Secretary’s plans to let parents buy school uniform basics in any shop means that hemlines could rise higher.
Linda Robinson, the headmistress at Merchant Taylors Girls’ School, Crosby, said: “Girls are only reflecting what is now the social norm. People are dressing more casually for business and it has filtered down into schools.”
She fears that new rules on uniforms will make hemlines hard to police. However, she fears that schools will struggle even more to impose reasonable limits on their pupils when new rules on school uniforms are introduced. “The first thing a school can do to keep a grip on skirt length is insist on a specific skirt, so what Michael Gove is suggesting is going to leave us even more exposed to fashion,” she said.
Mr Gove has said that schools must stop using particular suppliers for their uniforms. New guidance will also state that schools should keep compulsory branded items to a minimum, so that parents can shop around for the basics at ordinary clothes retailers. “If pupils can buy a piece of uniform anywhere, they can say that they could not find a knee-length skirt in Topshop or Zara. It will make things much more difficult,” Ms Robinson said.
Some schools have banned skirts altogether, which makes this whole situation so much easier to handle. The problem is the role models that teenage schoolgirls have in today’s world thanks to the media and music industries. You wouldn’t ever see Beyonce or Tulisa wearing knee-length skirts as it’s ‘not in fashion’, not that I’m an expert in this particular industry …
That being said, it is unbelievably annoying to me to see schoolkids wearing ridiculously short skirts. School is not a fashion show or a catwalk, it’s a learning centre so the focus isn’t on what you look like, more how to bring out the talents that you possess. I personally wouldn’t allow overly casual dress in any classroom I teach in, as I expect my children to dress as smart as I do (which is normally a suit). I think parents have a responsibility to ensure their children are dressed appropriately, meaning that they should buy appropriate uniform from proper uniform shops. I am aware that this makes buying uniform more expensive but the only other option is to ban skirts from school uniform altogether, which won’t be popular by teenage girls in the summer term that’s for sure.