Welsh head teacher defends school's crackdown on length of girls' skirts

Caldicot School
-Credit: (Image: Copyright Unknown)

A school head has defended a crackdown which saw pupils sent home because of the length of their skirts. A row has erupted at Caldicot School where some pupils were not allowed to attend lessons on Monday, June 10.

It was reported that some girls at the school were not allowed into classes because of the length of their skirts while some were reprimanded over make-up, eyelashes, and the length of their nails. A number of parents and pupils told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that some pupils had to be collected by their parents with some reportedly in tears.

The crackdown follows a letter sent to parents at the school last week insisting skirts would have to be "to the knee" as well as other uniform measures being enforced by Caldicot School's acting head teacher Alun Ebenezer. Mr Ebenezer appeared on BBC Radio Wales' The Phone-In on Tuesday where he defended the policy and denied it was unfairly targeting girls.

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"I haven’t introduced anything new – all I’ve done is reinforce what should already be in place," he said. "Yes, some people have reacted strongly against it but the good news is the overwhelming vast majority are in the right uniform, they are behaving as they should be, they are in lessons, and they feel happier and safer and it's a better experience from pupils, from parents, from staff."

Mr Ebenezer, who has spent 27 years in education and will be at the school until Christmas, said he was "surprised it's a story" and he had explained in his letter to parents last week that no new policies would be implemented before the end of the current school year and that instead he would "just reinforce what should already be in place".

He said: "Pupils who weren't in the right uniform were taken to a room and address those issues and get themselves ready for school and most of them did." Mr Ebenezer added that around 50 out of 1,300 pupils were asked to address issues and that some had notes and were allowed go to lessons but others had refused which was where he said the "rubber has hit the road".

Mr Ebenezer denied the uniform policy was unfairly targeting girls. On Monday Rachel Garrick, Labour councillor for Caldicot, said she was "concerned at a list of reasons to remove education from children that appears focused on gender" and added: "It feels very much like girls' bodies are being considered more than their right to an education."

Mr Ebenezer said: "Female members of staff have worked with the pupils to make sure they are as near to the rules as possible. Judgement calls have been made but no tape measures have been taken out and certainly no nail clippers.

"We've taken a stance against all pupils – it's been about ties being done to the top, shirts tucked in, the right footwear. That's what it has been about. The skirts have made the headlines."

He added that he had "never been at a good school with a bad uniform" and that he felt improving this would enhance the school overall. "I think little things matter. Things like manners, appearance, posture, how we conduct ourselves. I think all of those things are important.

“I can already see, in 48 hours, the positive impact this has had. I’ve seen social media and news coverage and the comments have been overwhelmingly positive."