Saturday 20 January 2018

Diary of a schoolteacher: No more skirting around the issue of school uniforms

E Grade

Right now in UK schools the Skirts War is raging. Guardian columnist Gabby Hinsliff writes that subject teachers there have had enough of girls 'tugging constantly at their hems' and not concentrating on getting a bit of learning done, and that Kinross High School in Scotland has slapped an outright ban on skirts altogether.

Ms Hinsliffe doesn't mention if the ban applies to kilt-wearing boys as well (Kinross is co-ed), but if the thought of pimply adolescent Scottish youths flashing their M&S briefs isn't enough to make the head clamp down mercilessly across the board with every imaginable form of severe punishment, then somebody is not doing their job right.

Anybody watching an episode of Cromwell Road, the risibly implausible BBC soap opera set in a school, cannot have failed to notice the shocking shortness of skirts worn by English schoolgirls depicted. When it comes to short skirts however, I can assure you, the programme is accurate.

Passing through British towns I myself have gasped with amazement, checking for Vauxhall Vivas and kipper ties and pinching myself in case I'm having a Life on Mars moment, as I witness mini-skirted schoolgirls pouring out on to the streets after school.

This, of course, all from an educational prospective, as I have nothing against girls in mini-skirts; but, no thanks, I don't want to see them in school any more than I think boys should be allowed wear those hilarious jeans with arses that sag down to the back of their knees.

This all reminds me of a situation in our school a couple of years ago when one of our girls, Amy Bone, decided, with the full backing of her 'enlightened' mother, to boycott our school because it said in the rules that girls had to wear a skirt as part of our uniform and that trousers were not acceptable.

Amy Bone was the latest in a long line of poor attenders from a family that traditionally seemed to prefer staying at home to watch TV to actually sharing a class room with real people.

Nevertheless even the principal agreed that girls should be allowed to wear trousers if they wanted. Now, unreasonably short skirts in our school and as far as I can tell in most other Irish schools are not a particular bone of contention.

If our kids want to rebel they usually resort to the more direct route of telling us to "f-- off' and informing us that they know where we live.

In the case of Amy, it was effectively a matter of waiting for the next meeting of the board of management and the parents' association so that it could be discussed and the necessary change to rules and stated policy could be made.

Eventually, the rule was changed and Amy was free to drop her boycott and return. Only she didn't. In the meantime she had decided to take 'home tutoring' and joined her brothers and sisters on the sofa.

Irish Independent

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