Bishop Luffa students protest against no-shorts rule
TEENAGERS rebelled against their school’s uniform policy today, with boys claiming they should be allowed to wear shorts in hot weather.
Boys and girls at Bishop Luffa School, in Chichester, were protesting against the school’s policy that sixth form girls could wear skirts to school but boys were not allowed to wear shorts.
A number of boys arrived wearing shorts this morning (July 3) but were told to remain off site, with head teacher Nick Taunt saying the boys had ‘excluded themselves’. Talks had gone on between the groups earlier in the week.
“I’ve talked with sixth formers about the issue. A group came and saw me and we talked through the reasons behind the school’s rule,” said Mr Taunt.
“The sixth form has a dress code and the dress code recognises firstly that we’re a place of learning and we all dress in a way that’s appropriate to the work we do.”
Girls have joined boys in protesting outside the school, with 17-year-old Ellie Mundy claiming it was ‘gender inequality’ for girls to be able to wear skirts while boys could not wear shorts.
“Our aim is to be able to wear shorts, just over the knee and we’re not really asking for much,” said fellow student Fred Thomas, 17.
“Some of us brought in shorts to get changed into and once we had them on we got sent away.”
The school was unaware of the planned protest until it took place today. Talks between students and teachers had taken place in the past few days.
“They’re saying it damages our reputation,” said 17-year-old Billy Fry. “They care more about what the school looks like to people on the outside to what it’s actually like on the inside.”
Meanwhile Laura Kane, 17, added the students were not currently in the workplace yet and many of them would be heading to university, where there would be no uniform policy.
A few members of the public stopped to speak to the children and supported them.
“I just wanted to say as a member of the public I agree with them,” said resident Mary Atkinson. “I don’t find it unreasonable at all for them to wear shorts.”
Mr Taunt said the school was for people aged 11-18 and sixth formers had a ‘significant role’ to play in leading the school, a job he said they did ‘magnificently’.
“We give a lot of freedom to the sixth formers as regards their dress but we have a ruling that shorts are not appropriate,” he said. “It happens that we’ve had a few hot days and in the main school boys have been able to remove their ties and pupils are not required to wear their blazers.”
As it stood this morning, boys outside the school were not allowed on site while wearing shorts, with one students going home to put on trousers so he could be allowed in to have a meeting with a teacher.
“Our role is to help prepare our young people for the world outside and preparing them for the world of work where standards are clearly stated and followed,” said Mr Taunt.
“It’s a difficult issue. I’m immensely proud of our sixth form, the rest of the school looks up to them. It’s sad that we have this particular issue where we don’t agree.”
Regarding the claim by some students it was unfair for girls to be able to wear skirts when boys could not wear shorts, he said: “We live in a society where women wear skirts and men do not,” adding it was reflective of the wider workplace outside the school.
“What we try to do is be so clear about the uniform that there’s no discussion about it. When young people choose this school they do so accepting the rules. We don’t want to end up in discussion because it can undermine the relationships between young people and staff, which are excellent.”
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