Petra Bagust says Catholic school within rights to ban girls from wearing shorts

A parenting expert says kids need to respect uniform rules after a school in Hamilton refused to change its policy to allow girls to wear shorts instead of a pinafore.

Parents of girls at Marian Catholic School told NZME the school-issued dresses are too hot and itchy, particularly in summer.

"She's sweating, she's hot, she's miserable," one woman said.

"I just feel like it's totally archaic to wear a winter-weight tunic all year long."

But Parenting Place spokesperson Petra Bagust says parents and kids need to learn to respect the rules.

"If I go to a factory floor, I'm in steel cap boots, my hair is in a net. I might not feel like it, it might be itchy but those are the rules," she told The AM Show on Thursday.

"This is a Catholic school. This is a policy that stands."

"There are rules in life," she continued. 

"I don't like the speed limit, I'd like to drive faster but I understand there are rules."

She says if parents are unhappy, they have options.

"They can exercise their right to send their child to a different school if they like," she said.

Marian School principal Debra White said the school received "mixed" feedback on whether the pinafores should stay or go.

The winter and summer uniforms for girls.
The winter and summer uniforms for girls. Photo credit: Facebook/Marian Catholic School.

"There were as many advocates for introducing culottes for girls in the place of the pinafores as there were people in favour of retaining the pinafores," said White in a newsletter to parents.

The decision to refuse uniform changes came after "a long and robust process", according to White. 

"We realise some of the changes you may not agree with but please note we've consulted far and wide and considered many competing viewpoints," she told parents.

Bagust says she wants to raise resilient children and insisting on rule changes won't do that.

"I want kids to take action about stuff that's important but I also want them to respect authority and to deal with it. I want them to be resilient," she said. 

"We want to teach our kids when to obey the rules."


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