School bans girls from wearing dresses
YOUNG girls at a Melbourne private school will no longer be allowed to wear skirts and dresses.
In what is believed to be a Victorian first, Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School will enforce pants and shorts for junior primary girls in a bid to encourage more physical activity.
A school wide audit found the uniform was impeding play for its youngest pupils.
Principal Elisabeth Rhodes said the uniform change for kindergarten, prep and year one students has led to girls being more active in the classroom and playground.
"We know research that points to the fact that young girls aren't as active as their male counterparts and we looked at things that might be inhibiting them," she said.
"We found the uniform we were asking them to wear wasn't necessarily fit for purpose.
"We wanted to encourage them if they wanted to hang upside down on the monkey bars or run around madly outside, so a change was needed."
Girls from year two and onwards will be free to choose from a selection of pants and shorts, skirts, dresses, jumpers, vests, and shirts.
The new uniform for the youngest girls is part of a school-wide overhaul, replacing seasonal uniforms with a year-round "wardrobe" that was designed with the students' input.
This includes new pants "custom-designed for girls' bodies," Ms Rhodes said.
"Girls love wearing the pants as they are so comfortable," Ms Rhodes said.
"We redesigned the whole uniform to include pants and shorts so they are not an add-on."
Blazers and hats are the only compulsory items.
The uniform change followed an 18-month review which found the traditional uniform did not reflect the contemporary values of the 98-year-old girls' school.
In Victoria, new policies introduced last year dictate that state schools must give girls the option of wearing pants and shorts.
However, this policy for freedom of choice doesn't apply to private schools and has not been adopted by all state schools.
School councils are responsible for school dress codes.
When introducing the state schools policy last year, Education Minister James Merlino said while most schools offered options of shorts and pants or dresses and skirts for female students, some continued to enforce a code to the latter.