Parents say they are going to send their children to school in skirts because teachers are refusing to allow the boys to wear shorts during the record-breaking heatwave. Parents at a number of schools say their children have been sent home for wearing school PE kits in the heat.
Siobhan Bates’ son Bradley, 13, was put in detention for wearing the cooler sports gear. She said: “I sent my son to school in his PE kit. When he got to school he got off the bus and a teacher stopped them going into school. They lined them up outside and said they were going to keep them in a room all day in detention. I told my son to go to lessons as usual but he was put in detention.
“I rang the school and they said it is the policy for them to wear uniform. The school said they are not allowed in their classes if they wear PE kit and have to be separated from children in uniform. If they go in PE kit on Friday I was told the children will be sanctioned. My son suffers from headaches in the heat and I let him go in his PE kit so he wouldn’t overheat and the air could get to his legs. Otherwise he has to wear thick black trousers and a shirt buttoned up to the neck. Luckily they don’t have blazers.”
Bradley Bates isn’t allowed to wear his PE kit to school (Image: Siobhan Bates)
The Headteacher of Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, Mr James Durbridge told WalesOnline: “We expect all our pupils to wear the formal school uniform. As a school community, we will continue to work together to monitor the situation and weather patterns carefully. If there are any changes, parents will be informed through our usual communication channels.”
Another parent of a pupil at Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School in Neath said his child was given detention for wearing his school PE kit, adding: “A [staff member] phoned me and said they are not letting kids wear their school PE kit and that they have to wear trousers, a shirt and tie. Yesterday the temperature went over 30°.
“They say the school has air conditioning, but it doesn’t work properly. What about the kids’ health and safety going to and from school? At break time and coming from school? In one of the classrooms [I was told] one child wasn’t allowed to leave class to get a glass of water.
“I think it’s sick and this needs to be addressed as some other local comps are allowing kids to attend in PE kit while the temperature is like it is.”
Becca Downing has a year nine pupil at Afon Taf High School in Merthyr Tydfil. She said she sent her son to school in his PE kit on Wednesday, but that he was told to change into his uniform or face detention.
She said: “It was very hot on Wednesday and the kids were all complaining. They were told they would either be put in a different classroom and excluded from all the other children or sent home if they wore PE kits and that it’s compulsory to wear their uniform.
“Meanwhile the teachers can wear dresses and skirts. It has really annoyed a lot of us parents. Before they broke up from the summer holidays they were allowed to wear their PE kits because it was quite hot then, but now it’s the same temperature if not hotter than it was then.”
She added: “We aren’t used to temperatures like this and it can make children feel lethargic and nauseous and find it hard to concentrate at school – it’s worrying. Their PE kit is quite smart rather than scruffy.”
Becca’s son, along with his friends, have decided to wear skirts to school in protest, since they’re not allowed to wear their school PE kits. She said: “If the school doesn’t change its mind, my son and his friends will be going into school wearing skirts. If it’s okay for the girls to wear skirts, I will be sending my son in a skirt too. My son and his friends want to make a stand.”
A spokesman for Afon Taf school said: “No pupils have been sent home from Afon Taf High School today, and any pupils attending school in PE kit have been offered trousers.
“The school is a modern building, with air conditioning in some rooms. Windows are open, and pupils appear to have been comfortable throughout the day today, with none commenting otherwise to teaching staff. We will continue to monitor the weather forecast and consider uniform accordingly.”
A number of parents with children at Pentrehafod School in Swansea said their sons would also wear skirts to school in protest. Jodie, who has a grandson in year 11, said: “The girls are allowed to wear skirts. It worries me thinking of [the boys] having to wear the long black trousers in this heat, they’re not used to this weather. Normally they are off school when it is this hot over the summer holidays, but this time they’ve gone back to school when it is boiling, whereas some of the teachers are wearing skirts and shorts. We don’t want them wearing any sports clothes, we just want them to be able to wear their school PE kit.”
A spokesperson for Pentrehafod School said: “At Pentrehafod we have a long-established school uniform policy and we expect all our pupils to wear the school uniform as outlined in the policy. As with most schools in the area, this requires boys to wear trousers in the Autumn Term. However, should there be a request to review this, then we would seek the views of all members of the school community.”