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The BBC's Lisa Holland
"They've now reversed their decision"
 real 28k

Jo Hale
"I hope that it will make girls stand up for what they believe in"
 real 28k

Peter Maughan, Wickham School governors
"We couldn't take the risk of costs as responsible educationalists"
 real 28k

Thursday, 24 February, 2000, 08:34 GMT
Schoolgirl wins right to wear trousers

Jo Hale
Jo Hale will be able to wear trousers to school from September


A teenage schoolgirl has won the right to wear trousers to school - overturning a school dress code that banned them.


I hope the outcome is influential in other cases where silly rules discriminate against girls.
Claire Hale, Jo's mother


Jo Hale, a 14-year-old pupil at Whickham comprehensive school in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, has succeeded in a three-year campaign to be allowed to wear trousers.

In an out-of-court settlement, which followed the threat of legal action against the school, Jo Hale and other girl pupils will be allowed to wear trousers as part of their uniform from September.

Jo Hale wearing trousers and her mother Claire Jo Hale, wearing trousers, poses with her mother Claire


This change in the dress code will only apply to Whickham School - although the schoolgirl's mother has called upon the education secretary to rule that girls can wear trousers in all schools.

The schoolgirl's parents had claimed that the school rule that prevented girls from wearing trousers represented a form of sexual discrimination.

"This will not become law but I hope the outcome is influential in other cases where silly rules discriminate against girls," said Claire Hale, the schoolgirl's mother.


We simply could not risk our limited funds being diverted away from education spending. It is therefore with great reluctance that we change the uniform code.
Tom Hopper, chair of governors


The case against the school dress code had been supported by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The commission's chairwoman, Julie Mellor, described the outcome as "a victory for common sense. Trousers are smart and practical for the rigours of school life and there is no reason for girls not to wear them".

The school's chair of governors, Tom Hopper, insisted that most parents still wanted to keep the ban on trousers for girls in school, but the threat of legal costs made it impossible to contest the case.

"We simply could not risk our limited funds being diverted away from education spending. It is therefore with great reluctance that we change the uniform code," said Mr Hopper.

There have been signs that other schools are relaxing previously strict regulations about trouser-wearing for girls - even in the most traditional institutions.

In 1998, it was announced that girls in the sixth form at the independent Cheltenham Ladies' College would be allowed to wear trousers for the first time, breaking with 145 years of tradition.

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See also:
13 Dec 99 |  Education
Court action over school trousers ban
01 Nov 99 |  Education
School trousers row looks set for court
07 Jun 99 |  Education
Mother threatens legal action over uniform
04 Nov 99 |  UK
Who's wearing the trousers?

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