Mandatory shorts and pants for schoolgirls

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.

New school uniform at Lowther Hall

In 2016 November 2017 Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School unveiled their new school uniform. it features a Earlsbrae blue blazer and jumper; paired with a bold striped navy blue, earlsbrae blue and gold summer dress; and navy blue pinstriped winter skirt, pants or shorts; with black lace up school shoes and short navy blue socks.

3 March 2016

The Lowther Hall uniform has seen many changes and evolutions since our school began 96 years ago. The uniform is an important means by which our student community can feel connected to each other and it fosters a sense of belonging. Our uniform also forms part of our school’s branding; conveying messages to the broader community about our values and standards. Lowther Hall girls wear their uniform with pride and it is a significant point of difference for us because of the polished way in which girls present themselves.

A uniform, however, is not a static thing and must continue to change and evolve over time in order to ensure that new developments in fabric and style are embraced. We have relatively recently updated our Sport uniform and continue to refine and improve items in the Sport uniform range. It is now time to review and update our academic (summer and winter) uniforms. This uniform change will be careful and considered and will be phased in slowly over a 4 year period so that families can plan for the change and avoid unnecessary cost.

In order to have completed the review of our school uniform and to have a new updated uniform ready by our centenary year in 2020 we have engaged a designer, Jonathan Ward, to work with a committee of staff, parents, and students (past and present). Jonathan began his career as a wool classer and then studied fashion design in Sydney and New York. When running his own business, Jonathan tailor-made garments for Nicole Kidman, Elle McPherson and Kylie Minogue. In 2001 he became the Executive Designer for the Australian brand, R M Williams and still holds that position.

Girls and parents who participated in our school surveys last year may remember that we sought your feedback about the uniform. A number of concerns were raised about the comfort of the current uniform for the girls, in particular the winter uniform. This feedback will play an important part in informing the review process and ensuring that any new uniform is comfortable and practical for the girls.

At this stage I anticipate the new uniform will be unveiled in 2017 and will be fully phased in by 2020. If you have any questions about the process involved in the uniform review, please do not hesitate to contact me or Ms Sandy Nelson (Director of Marketing and Admissions) at the School.

November 29 2017

A new wardrobe for a new era

Lowther Hall has been educating young women for almost 100 years.

Over this time, the changed role of women in society, their involvement in corporate life and their entry into a broader sphere of occupations, has been reflected in the changes to female codes of dress. Recent discussion in the media about the ways in which school uniforms can be perceived to channel girls into one particular model of femininity have also been interesting to observe.

As the leader of a girls’ school, I want our students to feel that what they wear at school, particularly in their senior years, helps them to feel ready to enter the adult world as confident and contemporary women who will find a place in the modern world and be ready to make a meaningful contribution to it.

Our designer began his work by spending time in the archives becoming acquainted with the evolution of the uniform since the School’s inception and derived the “Earlsbrae blue” that is the defining colour of the new wardrobe, from a dress worn at Lowther Hall in the 1940s.

The prominence of the School Crest has increased in the new wardrobe and serves as a unifying feature across multiple items. A formal blazer and a hat have been retained.

A wardrobe that is comfortable and allows movement

It was crucial that the new wardrobe would be comfortable to wear and would address some of the concerns that girls have with the current uniform, for example the transparency of the shirt and the fact that many students find the tights extremely uncomfortable.

The possibility of girls having more flexibility and choice – to cater for different body shapes, body temperatures and different activities – was another strong consideration.

Additionally, we wanted a uniform that gave girls and allows movement more opportunity to be comfortably active, especially in their early years of school, so the decision was to select fabrics with some stretch, as well as including items such as shorts or pants.

November 2017

Q: Why are we referring to it as a wardrobe?

A: Whereas the current uniform has all girls wearing the same thing at the same time (and is therefore, literally, “uniform” in its approach), the new range has a variety of connected trans-seasonal pieces from which girls can choose on any given day. It is therefore more accurate to describe it as a “wardrobe” of items.

Q: What is the transition period?

A: There is a two year transitional phase from the current uniform to the new one. All students are expected to be in the new wardrobe by the beginning of 2020, the School’s centenary year