WELSH schools are to let boys wear skirts and girls wear trousers in a gender neutral uniform shake-up.
From September 1, parents will no longer be encouraged to buy items that are gender specific – meaning they or their child can pick any available item.
The new guidance from the Welsh government provides advice for governing bodies and head teachers on issues relating to school uniform rules.
It follows a sea-change in views regarding uniforms, as female students were banned from wearing skirts in Bradford, West Yorks, last week.
Priory School in Lewes, East Sussex, also banned skirts last year after pupils questioned why its uniform was different for all the genders.
‘A CHOICE FOR ALL CHILDREN’
The change in Wales comes after a consultation last autumn after the summer heatwave in which some parents claimed uniform policies were too strict.
During the consultation, respondents backed the introduction of gender-neutral uniforms.
One wrote: “This should include the choice for all children as to whether they wear trousers or skirts, regardless of their gender assignment or sexuality.”
Another said: “The practicality of having a uniform policy that prescribes only gender neutral garments would be difficult to fulfil. However having a policy that allows children to wear any garments that form a part of the uniform policy should be allowed and encouraged.”
The previous 2011 guidance was non-statutory, therefore schools were not legally required to have regard to it.
Governing bodies will also be expected to consider ways of keeping down the costs of uniforms, which currently cost in the region of £340 a year.
KEEPING COSTS DOWN
These could include stipulating basic items and colours but not styles, meaning items could be bought from more than one outlet.
Schools will be expected to consider whether school logos are strictly necessary and if they should apply to just one item of uniform or be provided free of charge.
They will also have to consider whether there is a need for different uniforms for summer and winter.
The Welsh Government provides £125 for students eligible for free school meals to buy uniforms and other equipment through the pupil development grant.
Eligible Year 7 pupils are also entitled to a grant of £200 to help with the costs when beginning secondary school.
Minister for Education Kirsty Williams said: “Families will know how expensive new uniforms can be.
“This guidance puts a statutory responsibility on schools to consider the affordability, access and availability when setting their school uniform and appearance policy.