School uniform policy to be updated
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 13 April 2018, p13
In a major win for the girls and young women we teach, the Department of Education has been asked to update the student dress code procedure for state schools.
Education Minister Grace Grace announced the move, which the Queensland Teachers’ Union and organisations such as Girls’ Uniform Agenda have long been advocating for, at QTU State Council in March.
In an interview on ABC Radio Brisbane, the Minister said, “It’s not about saying no more skirts, it’s about saying students should be allowed to choose shorts and pants as part of the available attire to wear at school… We’ll be making sure that any dress code policy includes that choice for girls.”
The Queensland Teachers’ Union has provided feedback to the department as a part of the consultation processes, and in line with QTU Policy adopted at QTU Biennial Conference 2017, we have advocated for a choice of pants and shorts designed to be appropriate for girls to be available for both sport and formal uniform from Prep to 12.
It is important to acknowledge that many schools across Queensland already offer students the choice of shorts and pants for both formal and sports uniforms and have done for many years. The QTU welcomes a new procedure which makes this situation a reality for all girls and young women.
I recently visited students, school leaders and the uniform coordinator at Stretton State College, where shorts, pants and culottes have recently been available alongside skirts. The girls (pictured) indicated that they have been more active, more comfortable and more able to focus on their learning as a result of their new uniform choices. Whether it is simply a preference for pants or shorts, or a deliberate choice that makes it easier to ride a bike to school or run around on the oval at lunch, the girls at Stretton State College are eagerly taking advantage of the change to their uniform policy.
A number of people have asked me about whether schools with a “strong uniform tradition” should have to comply with the new policy and offer girls an option of pants and shorts. My answer is, absolutely. We must break from any tradition which entrenches inequality. There is no place for discrimination in our schools, and if we are serious about that, we need to start with the basics, and uniform is one of those things.