On the naughty step - Conduct that deserves a ticking off

This week: school skirt bans

OK, OK: so girls have fought for years for the right to wear trousers. But that doesn't mean they didn't want the right to wear skirts as well.

In recent years, dozens of UK schools have banned the glorious kilt, the majestic box pleat and the simple pencil skirt, all in the name of tackling shortening hemlines.

But rather than issuing a detention to girls whose skirts rise above regulation length, schools seem keener than ever to issue blanket bans of the garment. It's all perfectly understandable, but is it really the role of the school to banish the humble skirt?

In these days of trendy "zero tolerance" discipline, you might expect schools to be able to enforce a "below the knee" rule on their charges. Any attempts at a Rihanna or Britney Spears look could surely be nipped in the bud by the assistant principal (behaviour).

And anyway, surely nothing is more tempting to a teenager than an outright ban on something. Not to mention the fact that if the girls are really that rebellious, a trousers-only rule is surely asking to be abused. "Attention, Mrs Smith, we have a case of jeggings in the science block!"

Campaign groups have claimed that banning skirts may even contravene equality laws. Principals certainly don't want to risk that. And one question will surely remain: what is the senior management team's policy on culottes?

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