The school where boys can wear skirts - but not shorts

Jonathan Rockey, principal at Wymondham High Academy. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Jonathan Rockey, principal at Wymondham High Academy. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

Parents have hit out at new school uniform rules which mean that in hot weather boys can wear skirts - but not shorts.

The changes in policy at Wymondham High Academy follow complaints from families that boys were being forced to wear trousers during the summer term, when temperatures can soar.

The parents have been calling for a relaxation in the rules which would allow boys to wear shorts instead.

The school agreed to review the regulations, but rather than permitting shorts it introduced a 'gender neutral' policy, permitting boys and girls to wear trousers or skirts - and neither to wear shorts.

Jonathan Rockey, the school's headteacher, defended the new policy as "something we are very proud of" and said it had involved consultation with families.

Wymondham High Academy entrance at Folly Road, Wymondham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Wymondham High Academy entrance at Folly Road, Wymondham. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Many parents, however, are furious.

One, who asked not to be named, said: "We have been repeatedly asking year after year for shorts to be added to the uniform.

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"This is because girls can currently wear a skirt in the summer but boys have to wear trousers all year around.

"Every summer boys have found the heat hard to bear and so there have been repeated requests for shorts for both genders.

"Offering a skirt as an option is not gender neutral. It would be gender neutral to offer both boys and girls the option of a skirt or shorts.

"A skirt is in item of clothing traditionally associated with girls so although it is absolutely fine for a boy to wear a skirt, many boys and girls might feel uncomfortable about that and would choose  to wear shorts."

Another said: "I don't have any issues with boys wearing skirts. That isn't the problem here. I'm sure many girls would also like the opportunity to wear shorts instead of trousers in hotter months."

A third described the policy as "insane", adding: "The school appears to be deaf to parents clearly voicing concerns on this matter.

"It is not in our children's best interest to be overdressed and overheated in the summer. This is not conductive to an effective learning environment and I believe it is a health and safety issue."

The new uniform policy, triggered by the previous complaints, was introduced after more than 400 parents took part in a survey, with a large number calling for a 'summer uniform' to be introduced.

However, the exercise to date produced has just two changes - allowing boys and girls to wear trousers or skirts, and requiring girls to wear ties as well as boys.

Another aspect parents raised concerns about was the requirement to wear blazers all year around, which the headteacher insists has now been relaxed.

One parent, who has a son in year seven, said she had kept him off earlier this month, when temperatures hit the 30s, to avoid the issue.

She said: "It was the hottest day of the year, so I decided I would rather have my son at home and cool than at school and boiling hot."



'A POLICY TO BE PROUD OF'

Mr Rockey said the school was not ruling out further updating the policy.

He said: "We had a huge response to the questions and that was much appreciated. Like any consultation, there will be differing views and the academy and governors always consider these. We take all feedback seriously.

"Many parents were supportive of us considering a 'summer uniform', which we will consider for 2023-24. In the short term, we have enabled pupils to remove their blazers during hot weather.

"Changing everything about our uniform in one go, especially with the current financial concerns, would not be sensible so we are able to stage changes over a period of time.

"We will, from September, have a gender neutral dress code across the Academy, which is something we are very proud of."