Boys wear skirts to school in protest over shorts ban

Over 30 pupils protest after Exeter school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave

Some had borrowed from girlfriends, others from sisters. A few had gone the extra mile and shaved their legs.

When the Isca academy in Devon opened on Thursday morning an estimated 30 boys arrived for lessons, heads held high, in fetching tartan-patterned skirts.

The hottest June days since 1976 had led to a bare-legged revolution at the secondary school in Exeter.

As the temperature soared past 30 degrees earlier this week, teenage boys had asked their teachers if they could swap their long trousers for shorts. They were told no – shorts were not permitted in the school uniform policy.


When they protested that the girls were allowed bare legs, the school – no doubt joking – said the boys were free to wear skirts too if they chose.

"Quite refreshing" was how one of the boys described the experience

On Wednesday, a handful braved the giggles and did so. On Thursday the scale of the rebellion increased and at least 30 boys opted for the attire. One of the pupils said up to 70 were dressed in skirts.

"Quite refreshing" was how one of the boys described the experience, pointing out that if even Royal Ascot had allowed racegoers in the royal enclosure to remove their jackets then the school ought to relax its dress code.

Another said he rather enjoyed the “nice breeze” his skirt had afforded him.

A third, tall boy said he was told his short skirt exposed too much hairy leg. Some of the boys visited a shop on their way to Isca – the name the Romans gave to Exeter – to pick up razors to make sure they did not fall foul of any beauty police.

Ironically, the temperature had dropped in Exeter to a more manageable 20 degrees but some boys said they had enjoyed the freedom afforded by the skirts and that they might continue.

The school said it was prepared to think again in the long-term. The headteacher, Aimee Mitchell, said: “We recognise that the last few days have been exceptionally hot and we are doing our utmost to enable both students and staff to remain as comfortable as possible.

“Shorts are not currently part of our uniform for boys and I would not want to make any changes without consulting both students and their families. However, with hotter weather becoming more normal, I would be happy to consider a change for the future.”

Ms Mitchell said that pupils and staff would be allowed to remove their ties and undo top buttons. During lessons, shirts could also be untucked, but had to be tucked in at the end of lessons.

‘I was very proud of Ryan’

However, it was too late. The revolution was under way and was picked up by media organisations across the globe and Devon county council was forced to help the school out with inquiries.

A spokesperson said: “About 30 boys arrived at school this morning wearing school skirts. None of the boys have been penalised – no one was put in isolation or detention for wearing a skirt.”

The mother of one of the boys who began the protest said she was proud of him. Claire Lambeth (43) said her son Ryan (15) came home earlier this week complaining about the heat.

“He said it was unbearable. I spoke to a teacher to ask about shorts and she said it was school policy [that they could not be worn]. I did say this was exceptional weather, but they were having none of it. If girls can wear skirts, why can’t boys wear shorts?

“Ryan came up with the idea of wearing a skirt so that evening we borrowed one. He wore it the next day – as did five other boys. This morning there were about 50 to 60 of them in skirts.

“I didn’t expect it to take off like that. The school is being silly really – this is exceptional weather. I was very proud of Ryan. I think it was a great idea.”

The pupils told local news website Devon Live they will continue their "Boys in Skirts" campaign until the school changes its uniform code.

It may be that the weather will solve the problem for the school. The Exeter-based UK Met Office – situated up the road from the school – predicts pleasant but not searing temperatures over the coming week. –