Girls are banned from wearing skirts in 73 UK secondary schools that together account for 1.9% of the country's secondary schoolgirls. After a big jump in 2011 and 2012, the rate of new bans slowed and the total has only grown slowly since.
This blog charts the rise of the skirt ban (click here for maps) and offers advice on how to fight one if proposed in your school. It also asks - 'is it even legal?'. The government's equalities watchdog thinks it isn't (see here)
(The list of ban schools on this website has been thoroughly researched and is near complete, but information on any omissions grateful received)
So far this year we've had a couple of high profile skirt bans - think Bridlington and Trentham and a high profile attempt at Plymstock, but where the school now appears to have backed down. Beyond that though the only other two that have shown up so far are Copleston High in Ipswich, Suffolk and Heaton Manor in Newcastle upon Tyne, for a total of four. Acle High in Norfolk also announced a ban but then backed down under fire.
Set against that four are four moving in the other direction: John Colet in Buckinghamshire, Fareham Academy in Hampshire, Red House Academy in Sunderland and Omiston Sandwell Academy in the West Midlands are all withdrawing bans imposed in previous years.
Doubtless a handful more will come to light by September and it is more likely than not that the overall numbers will increase by two or three, but this trend is definitely losing momentum.
Two are worthy of comment: the (male) headteacher of Walkwood school, the Worcestershire middle school that in 2013 imposed a trousers-only policy on girls as young as nine has admitted charges of voyeurism. David Doubtfire entered a guilty plea at Worcester Crown Court and has been put on the sex offenders register. He denied and was acquitted of charges of possessing extreme pornography. Some would suggest that the skirt ban was driven by his need to stop temptation (click here for more).
The other case is more one about schools obsessing about all the wrong things. Hanson school, which has just started a ban, has been in the news for sending hundred of children home for minor uniform infractions (click here for more).
The 2014 numbers are all in and what looked like a developing trend in schools banning skirts has slowed sharply, with no net increase in the number of schools with such a policy this year. In 2011 and 2012 it looked like bans were going to go mainstream, but the numbers have fallen so sharply over the following two years that this now looks doubtful. The net increase in schools was 16 in 2011, 20 in 2012 but only 7 in 2013 (and 5 if two very small special schools are excluded) and zero in 2014.
So here we are in the summer and the current list is:
Westbourne and Stoke High (both in Suffolk), Grange Technology College (Bradford), Mirfield Grammar (Kirklees), Boroughbridge (North Yorkshire) and Walkwood Middle School (Worcestershire)
It's really pleasing to see all the press bashing the latter for it's ban for nine year olds. As far as I know, school uniform is not legally enforceable on under elevens.
Moving in the other direction we have Brunts (Nottinghamshire), Kirkbie Kendal (Cumbria) and Martin High School (Leicestershire)
We're now approaching the end of the school year and the early indications are that the number of schools bringing in a skirt ban will be down on last year (which in turn was down on the year before that).
The current state of play is that trousers-only policies will be introduced at
- Stoke High School, Ipswich
- Westbourne School, Ipswich
- Grange Technology College, Bradford
plus two other schools that are as yet unconfirmed
On the other hand such policies will no longer apply at
- Brunts Academy, Nottinghamshire
- Kirbie Kendal School, Cumbria
- Martin High School, Leicestershire (after just 1 year)
In addition the change planned for the Greenfields Academy, Birmingham has been abandoned. The map has been updated accordingly.