A few thoughts about how to fight a proposed skirt ban.

Winning is possible

A great many proposed bans have been reversed before implementation. This blog is aware of 13 that have been put forward and then withdrawn. Add to that a further 5 schools that have considered a ban but not put forward a formal proposition and the proportion that fail is significant. (Some of these schools will be added to the site in a later posting)

In fact the true figure is almost certainly a lot higher simply because an abortive ban is unlikely to leave a trace on the internet. The total number of cases where schools have climbed down may well exceed the 41 bans that have been introduced.

It’s very noticeable how the schools that back down tend to be in more affluent areas and serve more affluent demographics. Putting it bluntly, middle class parents are more likely to argue and to push back.

Use the press

 Schools don’t like bad publicity and they don’t like controversy. The first thing to do is to contact the local news outlets.

Use the female teachers argument 

Many ban schools insist on a shirt, tie, jacket and trousers for boys, girls and male teachers, yet female teachers can dress more or less how they like. That’s outrageous and is a great way of counter attacking.

If a man’s suit is unisex for kids and if it’s important to narrow gender differences by girls dressing as boys, then surely that applies equally to teachers: in fact not just equally, they also need to set a good example and inspire their pupils. So the message to staff should be - no trousers, no tie, no job.

Offer a compromise

Young girls wearing excessively short skirts is a genuine problem but there are other solutions. Many schools, including most of those that have been forced to back down on a proposed skirt ban, have introduced clear length rules and many specify a standard skirt from a single supplier.

Note that this need not lead to extra expense – for example Piggott School, Berkshire, which tried and failed to implement a ban in 2011 now allows only a narrow range of skirts, including one that can be bought in ASDA (http://www.piggott.wokingham.sch.uk/sch_Uniform.html)

Insist on genuine consultation

While some schools have undertaken ‘consultation’, it has been generally been a box ticking exercise and structured to produce a pre-determined result (more about this in a later posting). Where a more honest consultation has taken place, the schools have always been forced to back down. As a governor, this would be a good issue to draw the line over. 

Remember the governing body makes the decision

Although bans are generally head led, uniform is in fact set by a school’s governing body, so lobby them. Even though their phone numbers are not in the public domain, it should be possible to write to them via the school.

Use the complaints procedure

DfE guidance says schools should consult with parents on changes to the uniform. Of course it’s easy to manipulate that, but if they do not consult at all, a complaint should be lodged.