School skirts stirring controversy

School skirts stirring controversy

The hemline issue has become hotly contested at Henderson High School in west Auckland, with students and parents upset.

Sade Tuttle was rounded up with a group of girls after a uniform inspection at a school assembly, and she says she had no problem with making her school uniform skirt longer until she was told why.

"Basically we were told that the skirts needed to be lowered to below our knees or we would be given detention after school," she says.

The reason? Sade says deputy principal Cherith Telford told the group it was to "keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff".

For Sade and her fellow year 11 student, Jazmyn Green, it was those two comments that upset them.

"The rules themselves aren't the problem; the problem is when these codes target girls specifically because their bodies are sexual and distracting," says Sade.

Henderson High School is a decile three school in west Auckland. It has gone through a remarkable transformation under the helm of current principal Mike Purcell.

Over five years, the NCEA pass rates for level one soared from a low of about 39 percent in 2010 to above 85 percent by 2014.

Several of the parents that spoke to Newshub believe Mr Purcell is doing a great job, but they're unhappy with the way the issue of the uniform's skirt is being handled.

"Henderson High School has rules relating to the wearing of school uniforms," Mr Purcell says in a statement released to Newshub.

"These rules are not new and all families are made aware of them when they enrol. They include a stipulation that the hemline of female students' skirts must be on the knee, no higher.

"The uniform is practical for school wear and these rules are regularly enforced to ensure that all students can focus on their learning and feel comfortable in the school environment.

"As principal, I make no apology for insisting on high standards throughout the school and I have high expectations. That includes wearing the uniform according to the agreed rules".

For Sade and Jazmyn, the rule is not the problem. It's the rationale behind it.