Angry parents are mounting a challenge to the ‘gender neutral’ uniform policy at Priory School in Lewes.
They have organised a petition calling for the rules to be relaxed on all pupils coming into Year 7 having to dress in trousers, a shirt and jumper.
Matters came to a head during last month’s heatwave when, parents say, girls were refused permission by the school to wear their PE skirts and polo tops despite the hottest April temperatures since the 1940s.
The petition says: “The current school uniform policy states, that in hot weather, the Year 7 girls will be informed whether they are allowed to wear the PE skirts and polo tops instead of the compulsory full length trousers, shirt and jumper ... and in the last half term of the summer term only. There is no flexibility!”
It says that despite temperatures hitting a reported 28C (82F), the girls were not allowed to wear lighter clothing. The petition continues: “The school felt the weather was not hot enough ... Bearing in mind this rule only applies to Year 7s so 90 per cent of the girls in the school were walking around in temperature appropriate uniform ie skirts as were the teachers.
“We feel that this is unjust and against their rights to choose to wear a skirt in hot weather. It is our wish that the school uniform policy at Priory School is changed to allow girls to wear skirts abandoning the current so called ‘gender neutral’ policy that prevents the Year 7 girls from wearing them.
“If the policy was truly gender neutral then both boys and girls would be given the choice to wear a skirt and/or trousers. Taking the right away to wear a skirt from any pupil is unjust and far from gender neutral.”
Priory Headteacher Tony Smith said: “We do have a new uniform for Year 7 and at the start of this term there was unusually warm weather. It was not, however, a heatwave.
“A number of students wanted to wear the summer uniform which we had informed parents we would introduce in the summer. We received a number of emails and have considered the points made and will revise the policy as a result of the points made by parents.
“Both boys and girls in Year 7 will wear trousers until the weather becomes excessively hot and at that point we will invite students who wish to, to wear the shorts or skirts but we will allow students to wear the polo shirts.”