A SECONDARY school has come under fire for a ban on shorts during the current heatwave, which has seen some boys turn up for class in skirts.
Hundreds have now signed a petition calling on Caldicot Comprehensive School to consider a new uniform policy and allow its 1,300 pupils to wear shorts as school rules currently only permit long trousers or black skirts despite the temperature gage hitting 28 degrees celsius in recent days.
The petition, on the Eko site, which in just two days has gathered more than 440 signatures, has also claimed that boys who’ve arrived at school wearing shorts have been taken out of class and held in “isolation” and only released when they replace their shorts with full length black trousers.
Headteacher Steven Grech said it is “incorrect” that boys have been placed in isolation but declined to comment further on the claims as he said it “shouldn’t be for public consumption.”
He said the school has relaxed its rule that pupils were a heavy, black blazer at all times and said, if, temperatures continue to rise the school could, as has done in the past, consider allowing pupils to wear PE shorts during other lessons.
Among those to back the campaign for a rethink on the school’s uniform policy is Caldicot county councillor Rachel Garrick, whose two sons are both pupils at the school.
The Labour councillor, who is a member of Monmouthshire County Council’s ruling cabinet, said council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby has signed the petition calling on the school to lift the ban while Green Party cabinet member Ian Chandler shared his thoughts on Twitter and said: “Well-being to support learning is more important than uniform conformity”.
Cllr Garrick said her 15-year-old son is a member of the school council, and that is has been trying to raise the issue due to discomfort of wearing long black trousers in soaring summer temperatures without success. Due to the ban on shorts some boys have worn skirts instead as all uniform items have to be gender neutral.
“The issue has just been knocked back and he says they’ve been told it is too expensive but the school is not listening to the student voice,” said the county councillor.
“It should not be at the stage where parents tell me their children have been in isolation for wearing shorts and boys have been turning up in skirts not because they want to make a fashion statement but because they are feeling hot and bothered and would like to wear shorts but skirts are the only things that confirm to non-gender specific rules.”
The councillor said she was speaking as both a local representative and parent and said her husband, David, has for a number of years been in correspondence with the school over why aspects of its uniform policy are at odds with Welsh Government guidance.
That says schools should “avoid high cost items such as blazers and caps” while Caldicot’s blazer is only available from a single supplier, which is also against the government guidance.
“I find it particularly galling the school is not adhering to mandatory guidance but they expect students to have to adhere to a uniform standards.”
Headteacher Mr Grech said: “As the weather has become warmer we’ve made compromise measure on blazers and jumpers and should the temperature continue to increase we will look at alternative measures.”
He confirmed pupils have been allowed to remove blazers and jumpers and that in the past they have been permitted to wear PE shorts, and that would be kept under review.
But he said a full review would have to be considered by the governing body and the possibility of including shorts in the uniform, as requested by the school council, is “something I’m certain will be considered moving forward”.
He also said any issues on the school’s compliance with uniform guidance would have to be considered by governors.