Caught short: Parents outraged as Oldham schoolgirls sent home over skirt length

Parents have reacted with fury at an Oldham secondary school after seven girls were sent home in disgrace – due to their knee length skirts being worn too short.

The youngsters were confronted by teachers at Waterhead Academy in Oldham, Greater Manchester, who claimed the skirts would ‘ride up’ while they were walking, sitting or climbing stairs.

One girl said a staff member even asked to check the waistband on her skirt to see if it was rolled up.

Two others went back to school with what they believed was the correct length of skirt but were sent home again because it was deemed to be the ‘wrong’ material.

The pair missed up to three days of lessons due to the row.

The mothers of Mia Bentley and Olivia Jobson, both 12, voiced their disgust at the decisions made by the school.

Pub landlady Alyson Bentley, 40, said: “I’m absolutely disgusted that Mia has had to be off school for three days over this. It’s just so petty and a really bad way of dealing with the issue.

“As far as I’m concerned the skirt is the required length but they say it rides up when she was walks or goes up the stairs – but all clothes can do that in those circumstances.

“Whatever you’re wearing your trousers or jeans or skirts will ride up when you sit down or move – you can’t help that. That’s no reason to make a girl miss three days of school. Mia has tried other skirts but they are too long and too big.

“Sending them home is not right. Surely a detention or a warning would be more appropriate.”

The row erupted earlier this month after the girls arrived at school for Monday classes but teachers believed their knee length skirts were too high and did not conform to its rules of ‘a smart, distinctive and mature appearance’.

Olivia and Mia went back the next day but were sent home again after staff questioned the skirt’s material and by Wednesday their parents went to the school themselves to resolve the row.

Olivia was allowed back to class after she promised to keep pulling her skirt down to the right length, but Mrs Bentley failed to reach an agreement on Mia’s uniform and the youngster missed another day of school.

When she was finally allowed to return after missing three days on Thursday June 12 she was put on school report – meaning teachers had to record a comment on her skirt every lesson.

The Year 8 pupils, both of Oldham, are now so upset over the affair that their parents are considering transferring them to different schools.

Olivia’s mother Deborah Jobson, 41, a bookkeeper, said: “It’s ludicrous. The girls have basically been sent home for simply following the rules. The skirts are quite clearly knee-length – I don’t know who says which part of the knee it has to be.

“The school policy states knee-length black skirt and that’s what this is. The policy has always been there and there’s never been a problem until now. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not proportionate. The girls have missed out on vital learning.

”Mia and Olivia are both good kids. Olivia had an outstanding school report yet the staff seem happy to put them through all this and allow them to miss days off.

“There’s also no consistency either as Olivia said some of the teachers told her, her skirt was fine and there are other kids with skirts even shorter.”

”If they’re going to be pedantic, they need clear and concise rules on uniform. Saying its the wrong material makes them look undignified.”

Mia said: “I haven’t done anything wrong. The staircases are open so teachers are saying people can look up your skirts. But I didn’t do any of this on purpose.”

Jessie-Mae Cavanagh, 12, said teachers wanted to check the waistband of her skirt to see if it was rolled up and Year 10 pupil Annie Jones, 15, went to school wearing the same length skirt  but avoided punishment.

According to the school’s website girls must wear a white blouse, black trousers or knee-length skirt, ‘sturdy’ black school shoes, tights and black or grey socks.

The website adds: “Our uniform tries to combine a smart, distinctive and mature appearance with value for money. 

“It is important to us that our students have a reputation for looking good and behaving well, both on and off our premises and we believe that our uniform helps us in that aim.”

Findings from the school’s most recent OFSTED inspection in March last year ruled that Waterhead Academy still required improvement after an earlier inspection in January found GCSE scores were ‘generally below average’.

Parents have taken to social media to criticise the school’s decision on their skirt-length policy.

One internet user said: “It’s a shame the schools don’t pay the same attention and passion to bullying and truancy, etc instead of focusing and punishing silly little things like this, sort out the big issues.”

Leigh Sharples said: “They did exactly the same with our daughter. I went into school and they had me waiting two and half hours before anybody would see me.

“I’m appalled at what they are doing they need to deal with the issues that are serious in that school not the petty skirt situation. “hey have more important things to sort out.

Waterhead Academy’s community director Alison Taylor said school policy was for either parents to bring alternative uniform into school or pupils would be sent home.

She added: “All parents and students are aware of the Academy’s uniform policy.

“It is the responsibility of parents to send their children to school appropriately dressed. Students and parents are given an opportunity to resolve issues with uniform should they arise.”

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of Kris Krug with thanks

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