Protest at Sharnbrook Academy over “sudden” skirt ban

Female pupils protested on the field at Sharnbrook Academy at what they called
Female pupils protested on the field at Sharnbrook Academy at what they called "unexplained" rule changes. Image: Reader Photo

Female students at Sharnbrook Academy have protested on their school field today after claiming they were told they can’t wear skirts or shorts ‘shorter than knee length’.

A petition, set up in support of the protest, said the new rule was implemented “suddenly and with little explanation”.

The petition also claims the new rule has been primarily focussed toward female students who have been “punished by phone calls home and isolations”.

One parent whose daughter attends the school told the Bedford Independent students decided to protest after a male teacher said he was “distracted by short skirts”.

The principal at the school, Clare Raku, said they will be looking into this allegation and will “deal with it accordingly in line with the school policies and procedures”.

Pupils have now called upon the school to give them lessons dedicated to respecting each other and the struggles of modern youth “due to all the sexual assault and sexual harassment currently circulating throughout society.”

Peaceful protest

In a letter sent to parents and seen by the Bedford Independent, Ms Raku said the protest was peaceful, but she regrets students took the action they did.

“There are better, less disruptive ways of having that conversation and voicing their views,” she said.

“However, we took the decision to listen and respect the peaceful point that was being made. We will listen and act upon those concerns.

“There will now follow a period of consultation and discussion with governors, staff, students and parents.”

In a later statement to the Bedford Independent, Ms Raku explained that pupils are asked to wear trousers or long skirts over their sportswear on days they have sports lessons.

This is because the school’s sports changing facilities remain closed due to Covid restrictions.

“This decision has led some students to voice their concerns and a peaceful protest took place at the school today,” she said.

“We do not condone protests taking place at the school however senior staff took the opportunity to talk with students to understand their concerns.

“This conversation was not just about the item of uniform but the wider discussion of matters relating to the sexualisation and harassment of women.

“We encourage open discussion on vitally important matters such as this and will continue to listen and act upon those concerns, both through the curriculum and our wider work.”

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