Parents of a group of teenage girls are angry after a head teacher at a UK school sent their daughters home without warning this week for wearing uniform skirts she felt were too short.
About 24 students were turned away from their classes at Ebbsfleet Academy in Swanscombe, England on the first day back from Christmas break because their skirts were believed to be more than 5 cm above the knee, The Guardian reports.
“They put quite a few girls and boys out of school without their parents’ knowledge,” Terry Joseph, father of a 14-year-old student at the school, told The Standard. “There were children walking the streets of Kent, perhaps some without anywhere to go.”
He added, “I do not have a problem with them enforcing it but they need to give parents enough time. Nobody was made aware at the end of term. The first time I knew about it was when my daughter came back on Tuesday.”
— Evening Standard (@standardnews) January 4, 2017
Another parent, Kim O’Brien, says her 15-year-old daughter was also turned away.
“My daughter turned up to school today in her old school skirt, which she’s never had a problem with before, and they told her to stand to one side and wouldn’t let her in,” The Daily Mail reports. “There’s nothing wrong with her skirt, it’s sensible and the right length – she came in a minute ago and it isn’t that short.”
However Alison Colwell, the school’s principal, told The Guardian that a note was sent home with students before the holiday break to remind them of the uniform policy following complaints that some girls were showing “lots of thigh.”
“We are no different from any other school,” she says. “We just enforce the rules. A lot of schools say they have rules, then they don’t enforce them. It’s about the authority of the school. I think it’s important to look smart and to prepare our young people for going out into the world.”
Despite reports of over 200 girls being sent home, Colwell tells The Guardian that it was less than 10 per cent of the school’s population, which is 240 students.
She says students who were able to show that a new skirt was on order were allowed to remain in school, while others were offered longer skirts from the school’s second-hand collection. It was only “a tiny number” that were turned away.
Last year Colwell also came under fire when she sent home five per cent of the student population for violating dress code rules, according to The Guardian.
One girl was reportedly sent home because her bag was too small, and another because she had used an eyebrow pencil.
This isn’t the first time strict school dress code rules have caused a stir.
Student Rose Lynn was told her outfit was inappropriate and distracting. When she returned to school, she wore a T-shirt that read, “It doesn’t cover your crotch” in the front and “You’ll distract the boys” in the back in protest.
That same year students at the Etobicoke School of Arts staged a protest by wearing crop tops to school after a pupil was told to leave school for wearing the garment.
Last year a school is Mississippi sparked a debate after it sent home a nine-year-old girl for wearing form-fitting clothing, according to Today.
Educators were accused of body shaming and bullying the girl because her clothes were tight around her midriff.
“Apparently, it is acceptable to body shame a nine year old, ” Robbie Nettles, the girls’ uncle wrote in a Facebook post. “My niece may not be the ideal weight, but she was not showing anything inappropriate.”