In defence of shorts as school uniform: The perfect summer solution for boys and girls

“It’s not fair, girls can wear skirts, but we have to wear trousers. They’re so hot,” my 15-year-old son bemoaned to me on a balmy day. “Some of the boys at school were talking about wearing skirts, they can’t stop us. The uniform policy says skirts are OK.” I felt for him; his regulation 100% polyester trousers make me sweat just looking at them. Sarah Ockwell-Smith,arenting author writes in Huffington Post.

Every year the skirts vs trousers debate echoes around the country. While my son’s friends decided against a day in skirts (I suspect in no small part because the skirts are nearly £40 each!) there are regular news reports of fed-up boys protesting restrictive uniform policies by attending school in skirts.

While allowing boys to wear skirts is all well and good, the obvious question to ask is – why not shorts? If ISCA Academy changed their policies to allow shorts for boys, why can’t other schools? Plus, if we’re talking about gender neutrality, why not allow shorts for girls too?

Am I alone in wondering why shorts have been so overlooked in the summer uniform debate? Shorts are practical, smart, gender neutral and fulfil the need for modesty that schools promote. As great as it is that more progressive schools are allowing boys to wear skirts and girls to wear trousers, I can’t help feeling confused about the exclusion of shorts from uniform lists as soon as kids start secondary school.
When my daughter started school, she was sad to find she had a choice of gingham dress, grey skirt or long grey trousers. Shorts weren’t on the menu for girls at any age. We skirted the rules (no pun intended) by buying baggy culotte skirts, or gingham playsuits with skort bottoms. Given that most girls under eleven spend most of break and lunchtime upside down in handstands and cartwheels with their skirts around their waist and knickers on full display, I figured that shorts would have been a much more modest and practical choice for uniform. The school thought otherwise.
I understand the need for school uniform regulations, what I don’t understand is why they are so unreflective of real life, given that’s what they’re meant to prepare kids for. As a professional working adult, I can select my clothing for comfort, according to the weather. If I’m too hot, I get distracted and my work suffers. Why do we expect kids to cope better than us in situations we wouldn’t tolerate ourselves?
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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