School called out over ‘outrageous’ uniform policy changes rules

A school criticised over its ‘outrageous’ uniform policy has changed its rules.

We reporter earlier this year how St Damian’s RC Science College, in Ashton, Tameside, was under fire for refusing to allow girls to wear trousers.

The parent of a schoolgirl starting the high school this September described the policy as ‘outrageous’ and questioned how it was allowed within equality laws.

The complaint from the mum-of-one, who asked not to be identified, followed a tweet from comedian Jenny Eclair, who joined a discussion about the issue of females wearing trousers and said it wasn’t until 1995 that her sister was able to wear them at work.

In the tweet, Jenny said: “Talking to my sister, as a female barrister (qualified late 70s) she wasn’t allowed to wear trousers in court until 1995 – that’s 1995!!! Sometimes ‘once upon a time’ is not v long ago.”

The pupil’s mum, from Oldham, said: “It’s nearly 30 years on and girls are still forbidden from wearing trousers to school. It really makes me angry.

“With all the articles recently about short skirts being measured by school staff, surely the obvious solution is trousers.”

But now the school has decided that girls can wear trousers after all.

While she’s not received any official notification of the new uniform, the mum spotted the change to the rules on the school’s website.

Whereas previously it said ‘black trousers (boys only)’, it now says ‘black full length school uniform trousers (jeans/corduroy or tight-fitting leggings/jegging style are NOT permitted)’.

There is still the option to wear a black pleated skirt, which it says must be ‘of modest length *(ONLY 2 inches above the knee)’.

The mum who made the initial complaint said her daughter, who has always been allowed to wear trousers for primary school, would be pleased about the decision.

“I am relieved,” she said. “And I’m sure a lot of other people will be too. I think it has been a very long time coming.

“I just really wanted her to have the choice. It shouldn’t even be an issue in this day and age.”

The new rules do not say trousers are for 'boys only'
The new rules do not say trousers are for ‘boys only’
(Image: St Damian’s RC Science College)

Uniform Reform, the new partner campaign to Let Clothes Be Clothes, aims to end gender stereotyping in the design and marketing of childrenswear, with a focus is on advocating better school uniform policies.

It also urged the school to reconsider its policy, saying ‘schools also have a public duty to promote the 2010 Equality Act, and really need to consider how they can legally defend forbidding girls from wearing trousers when it clearly contravenes conventional dress standards’.

Francesca Cambridge Mallen MA (PHDc), of Uniform Reform, said: “We are aware that some uniform policies in the UK continue to ban girls from wearing trousers, and would ask schools to urgently revisit such rules by establishing a meaningful dialogue with parents and pupils.”

St Damian’s RC Science College and the Diocese of Salford declined to comment.

Does your child’s school have a skirts-only policy for girls? Have their been complaints over the uniform policy at your child’s school? Let us know in the comments.

MEN – Oldham