Calls to rethink school uniforms to offer more choice than skirts

For thousands of girls around the country, heading back to school means wearing the same heavy wool skirt every day.

A public health expert is calling on schools to give students more options when it comes to school uniforms - so they can kick a ball or bike to school more easily.

It's 2022 and many girls are still in long skirts, which can be cumbersome. Research has shown girls wearing sports-style uniforms are more likely to be active outside of physical education - but skirts can prevent that.

"Girls who are wanting to bike to school, you can risk flashing your knickers. If you want to play on the jungle gym that's the same thing," says public health researcher Dr Johanna Reidy.

Uniforms can also be too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

Dr Reidy says students will be in a better headspace to learn if they are comfortable and active.

"Given we know school uniform doesn't affect academic outcomes why not make it more encouraging of physical activity."

School leaver Hannah Bautista had the option of a skirt, shorts or trousers at her high school.

"Even walking itself can be quite uncomfortable in a skirt so having the option of trousers or shorts are really good and just makes everyone feel more included in the community," she says.

And for Hannah and her peers it's about identity.

"Having just the option is extremely important, especially in today's society, just making sure everyone feels comfortable."

There can be real benefits to school uniforms - including preventing stress over what to wear to school. But they can be pricey - even more so if you're a girl.

"If there's no choice in the school uniform, girls are often forced to pay more to have the same outcome," Dr Reidy says.

Building the case for making school uniforms a little less uniform.