DOZENS of girls at Yate Academy have been banned from the classroom in a row over the length of school uniform skirts.
Pupils chanted and waved banners at two demonstrations outside the school gates after teachers started a strict enforcement of the rules from the start of term in January.
Several have the support of their parents, who have told the Voice saying they believe the new approach is unfair and unreasonable.
Two Year 11 pupils have started an online petition, which had been signed by more than 1,200 people by the end of January.
They claim the school tried to enforce a “skirt line” outside the school entrance, taking girls in skirts to one side to have the skirt’s length checked, which they described as “objectifying and distressing”.
The girls, who are not named on the petition, said they felt a new policy that skirts must touch the knee was “both unnecessary and unfairly targets girls”.
They could wear trousers instead, but say many do not want to.
The girls said: “This rule has been enforced with undue severity, resulting in disruption to the learning environment. Today, countless girls were removed from lessons for extended periods, solely to address skirt length discrepancies.”
One parent, Kim Ashley, said children were missing lessons because their skirt was an inch too short.
She said: “I had a phone call and I could hear my child crying in the background. She was told her skirt was too short. It took more than three teachers to come to that conclusion.
“But the outrageous thing was the next day she was told by two teachers it was fine! So she went through that for nothing. It seems to me it’s all about opinion whether it’s too short or not.
“As a parent I want their voices to be heard and fully support them.
“At the moment they are not allowed to have an opinion on the matter. The teachers see it as answering back and they’re sent straight to ‘AR’, which means missing lessons for 24 hours – in one week more than 30 children were sent to AR.
“Some children are missing lessons being sent home and being made to change into trousers and all because their skirt is an inch ‘too short’.
“Yet when it comes to PE kit they can wear low cut V-neck tops and skirts which are like hot pants. Why is that acceptable?”
Another mum, Roma Smith, posted photos of her daughter on Facebook, wearing a sports skirt and a school uniform skirt.
She said: “The school skirt is too short and not acceptable by the school yet the PE skirt is.
“We have bought the correct uniform from the correct supplier, yet it is not good enough for the school because the skirt is above the knee, so our daughter is being told she looks unprofessional and is being punished.”
Some parents said the problem was that the school uniform suppler Monkhouse, which supplies uniforms for hundreds schools, did not have the range of skirt lengths needed.
Roma said: “Only having two skirt lengths available is ridiculous, and doesn’t take into account that kids are still growing, or that some girls will be very long-legged, so ‘standard’ lengths will come up short on them.
“Should they be punished because the skirt doesn’t fit them and there’s no alternative?”
The Voice contacted Greenshaw Learning Trust, which runs the school in Sundridge Park, to ask for a comment from head teacher Edward Rakshi, who took charge of the school last September.
A trust spokesperson said: “We don’t comment through the media on any issues relating to pupils.
“If parents/carers have concerns about any aspect of school life at Yate Academy, we suggest that they should always contact the school directly, and any communications with parents/carers will be made directly.”
The girls’ petition can be found online at chng.it/srqXMXzY.