Instead of just adding shorts and pants to the school uniform options, Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School has remove skirts and dresses from the uniform list for kindergarten and year 1 students.
23 October 2018
Melbourne school makes shorts and pants mandatory to encourage girls to exercise
A Melbourne school has made shorts and pants mandatory to encourage physical activity and play among young girls.
Kindergarten and year 1 students at Lowther Hall Anglican grammar school in Essendon have ditched school uniform dresses and skirts. The school is believed to be one of the first private schools in the state to make the uniform change for its junior primary female pupils.
The school’s principal, Elisabeth Rhodes, said the school had reviewed its uniform wardrobe to make it more fit for purpose.
Girls had previously reported feeling self-conscious and inhibited by dresses and skirts while they were playing and some were choosing to sit and talk instead.
Rhodes reflected on her own schoolgirl days doing gymnastics manoeuvres.
“I was a cartwheeler, I do remember the dress flying up over my head, as well as when you were spinning around on the monkey bars or doing handstands, you were always worried about your dress falling down,” she told the Guardian.
Rhodes said there was strong support from girls and parents behind the move, and they had some input into the design.
“It’s a beautiful uniform even though it is less formal in the early years,” she said.
School principals were conscious of the importance of physical activity not just for warding off childhood obesity but also for good mental health.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if more schools were looking to adopt uniforms that would promote engagement in physical activity,” Rhodes said.
Eveline Jona from the Victorian Parents Council – a lobby group for parents who send children to non-government schools – said it was important for schools to balance issues such as physical and mental health with freedom of choice.
Her organisation encouraged schools to consult their community before making key policy decisions on topics such as school uniform.
The Victorian state government last year sought to give female students at public schools the option to opt for pants and shorts over dresses and skirts.
Next year Queensland public school girls will also have broader uniform choice.
In New South Wales and Western Australia, public schools have also followed suit.