School uniforms are common across the world for good reasons and bad.
A teenage British blogger for The Guardian points out that “a uniform means students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to their clothes… There is no competition about being dressed in the latest trend, which would put a great deal of financial pressure on students and parents. [And] Potential bullies have one less target for their insults; it’s hard to make fun of what someone is wearing when you’re dressed exactly the same..”
This rational reasoning for school uniforms is being questioned by students and parents alike in southwestern England.
Exeter, a town that’s just about 12 miles from the English Channel, has been experiencing a heatwave this summer, with temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius—that’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit. While it may not be the hottest place in the world, that’s an uncomfortable temperature for children to be wearing long pants.
At Exeter’s ISCA Academy, boys are required to wear “trousers,” a white shirt, and tie throughout the school year. With this heat, many of the boys were looking for ways to cool down.
An unnamed ISCA Academy mother spoke to Abbie Bray with DevonLive.com, a website covering Exeter and the surrounding community.
“My son wanted to wear shorts but was told he would be put in the isolation room for the rest of the week,” the mom explained on Wednesday, June 21.
Holy cow, we thought detention was bad here in the States—across the pond, they get solitary confinement for breaking dress code!
“The head teacher told them ‘Well you can wear a skirt if you like’ but I think she was being sarcastic. However children tend to take you literally, and so five boys turned up in skirts today–and because she told them it was ok there was nothing she could do as long as they are school skirts.”
One of these boys did get in some trouble for wearing a skirt that was shorter than the dress code regulations, but that’s a story for another day.
The following day, some 50 boys opted to wear skirts to the Academy.
“Children also don’t like injustice,” the schoolmarm said. “They just think it’s unfair that they can’t wear shorts in this heat.
“They are doing this to cool down–but also to protest because they don’t feel they have been listened to.”
Another mother, Claire Reeves, has asked the school for leniency.
“The weather has been so hot recently, and it’s got to the point where my son is suffering,” she told the local website.
“The girls are allowed to wear skirts all year round so I think it’s completely unfair that the boys can’t wear shorts.
“Boys just don’t have the option, and I am just really concerned about how the heat is going to affect him.”
The school’s headteacher—we Yankees call them principals—Miss Aimee Mitchell told Bray, “We recognize that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.
“Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys, and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families.
“However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”
So that’s the way it looks: as the climate is changing, so too are dress codes in southern England. It’s just that no one expected that to mean boys would be choosing to wear skirts.