Tag Archives: education policy

Making all children wear trousers is not a gender neutral uniform policy

Piers Morgan criticises Lewes school’s gender neutral uniform – BBC news

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although I don’t agree with Piers Morgan’s reason for finding the Priory school’s uniform policy absurd. It do agree this school has still got it very wrong. Is this really an attempt at a gender neutral school uniform policy, or rather is it a blunt tool to cover up female flesh to avoid addressing/ acknowledging the objectifying attitudes to women that continue to proliferate in society?

Priory School in Lewes said it made the change after concerns were raised over the length of skirts worn by pupils.

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Examine the pictures produced by the school and ask yourself if it obvious which figures are boys and which are girls?

Of course it feckin’ is! The boys have trousers with a smart crease down the front. The girls have slimmer, figure hugging trousers. The girls wear ballet shoes, the boys big chunky shoes (this school is so behind the times, ballet shoes are so yesterday, DMs are where it is at for boys and girls and those who identify as a third gender, intersex or no gender). The girls have long hair, the boys short. The girls pose in a way that accentuates their little delicate, weak hands. The boys ram rod straight, their big, strong hands behind their backs or straight down their sides (a physical manifestation of holding it all in, even those really useful emotions of fear and regret and sorrow).

Gender neutral clothing means boys and girls and those who identify as a third gender, intersex, or no gender wear whatever uniform that they feel ‘right’ in be that a skirt, trousers, shorts or a dress; and that the school rules are applied equally to all. Better still, scrap uniform altogether and instead develop a set of guidelines applicable to all that ensure safety and fairness such as, no heels, no obvious branding logos etc.

What gender neutral clothing is not about is covering up flesh and stifling individual expression by making everyone the same. So although Piers Morgan’s objection is coming from a quaint, but frankly last century Chauvinism (yawn), I do get his discomfort and I strongly urge Priory Academy to have a rethink and engage with their student body – who will already have the solution – and roll out a gender neutral uniform policy that really is what it says it is.

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A Grammar school system I would buy into

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If we think it makes sense to take the top 25% of pupils at aged 11 and put them into a school just for them so they can reach their potential unhindered by those who learn more slowly, then why don’t we think it makes sense to take the bottom 25% and put them into a school just for them so they can reach their potential unhindered by those who learn more quickly?

If we are to return to a period of educational segregation then let’s make sure all the best teachers and resources are in the schools for the bottom 25%.

If the bottom 25% were given all the advantages of a grammar school with a curriculum tailored to play to their learning strengths such as strong visual memory, creative and practical skills, just think of the impact on crime, employment and mental health.

The IQ test (on which 11+ is based) was designed to identify children who were significantly behind their peers on academic performance (in the bottom 2% of the population) so they could be offered tailored, specific support to enable them to catch up and fulfil their potential. Instead we use it to identify the children who are likely to achieve well in whatever school they attend.

So I say YES! to a grammar school system that gives the bottom 25% the belief that they are special and worth investing in. The other 75% will do just fine in a mixed ability comprehensive. Won’t they?

Of course, if this really were the grammar school system then children would need to be tutored to fail and it would be patently ridiculous to encourage academic failure, yet the grammar school system the Conservative government would like to resurrect does exactly that.

Branding 75% of 11 year olds as failures will hardly encourage success.

Author note: I am firmly for inclusion for all children – schools that value all pupils and adapt the curriculum and setting to accommodate all learners, tend to develop caring and nurturing pupils who understand that everyone has strengths and everyone finds some stuff difficult.

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