Schoolgirls at Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Sydney are chafing* at not being allowed to wear pants and want strict rules dating back more than 100 years upturned.
Girls at NSW government schools are guaranteed the option of trousers and shorts under rule changes by the State Government in 2018, but many of their non-government-school sisters are still bound by tradition.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she understood their plight*.
“Private schools obviously have their policies in place and I was a schoolgirl (at) one of those schools and I would argue that young girls should be able to express their views,” she told radio 2GB.
“More strength to them, speaking up on what you feel strongly about is how you make change.”
A new petition by students at Presbyterian Ladies’ College (PLC) at Croydon, where girls must wear a knee-length tartan skirt or dress, calls for the opportunity to wear pants.
Published at change.org, the girls ask for the pants to be an addition to the skirt “thus meaning they choose to wear whichever bottoms they want”.
Some of the arguments put forward in favour of pants for students argue girls have been held back from participating in sport and outdoor play because of the restrictive nature of dresses and skirts.
Under NSW Education guidelines for public (also called state or government) schools “all students should have the opportunity to access the full range of school activities, including physical activities, while wearing a school uniform”.
A spokeswoman for PLC said the matter would be discussed at assembly and in a newsletter by principal Dr Paul Burgis.
“We are aware of the petition and Dr Burgis is in discussions about how this can be put through a formal process,” she said.
NSW Parents Council president Dr Rose Cantali said parents choose independent schools for a variety of reasons, including tradition and uniforms can be a part of representing that, along with discipline and values.
“I think parents are amenable* to changes within reason and pants for girls, but it has to be looked at within each school and their community and the student body,” she said.
Barker College at Hornsby, established in 1890, has moved to coeducational* by introducing girls, so the choice of a new uniform for them was crucial. Principal Phillip Heath said they decided to give the female pupils a choice of pants and shorts on top of a skirt. and the girls had “loved it”. Top designer Jonathan Ward was asked to come up with “more contemporary uniform of the classic Barker feel”.
“We also got the students to come and test drive the uniforms — make sure the pockets were in the right place, and that they could sit down on the floor without being embarrassed and stand-up without it being awkward. The kids are quite conservative,” he said.
“They did not want to radicalise* the uniform. They cherished the long heritage the uniform has.”
Girls at government schools in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and NSW have the option of wearing pants or shorts. In Tasmania and the Northern Territory, individual government schools set their own uniform requirements.
- chafing: to become annoyed or lose patience because of rules or limits
- plight: dangerous or difficult situation
- amenable: open to suggestion
- coeducational: school for both boys and girls
- radicalise: cause someone to adopt radical or extreme positions on issues
- Which school is this story mostly about?
- How are the students gathering supporters for their cause?
- What would they prefer to wear?
- What do they wear now?
- Why is Barker College mentioned?
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1. Design Your Own Uniform
Work with a partner to design a school uniform that you and your classmates would enjoy wearing but also looks neat and tidy to represent your school. Your uniform should be suitable for both sexes and you need to ensure that it is practical, comfortable and attractive looking.
Take note about the points in the article where students test drove the uniform to check pockets were in the right place and you could sit and stand comfortably.
Draw your summer and winter design sketches below.
Explain your choices and colours to the class.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and social, Critical and creative thinking
Do you think only allowing skirts/dresses for girls at this private school is discrimination towards girls? How might it hinder them participating and enjoying school having to wear this uniform?
Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and creative thinking
Proper Noun Police
A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place or thing. It always has a capital letter.
How many proper nouns can you find within this article? Find them all and sort them into the category of name, place, time (date/month).
Can you find any proper nouns included in your writing?
What are they?
Can you sort them into their categories?