A headteacher has been forced to apologise after students at his school claimed they’d been told in an assembly that short skirts provoked unwanted sexual attention.
A group of female students at The Elton High School in Bury took to Instagram to express their outrage at the assembly, which they said was held to talk to them about rape and sexual assault.
‘This assembly did not address the problems that we have at Elton, but rather [blames] girls for the length of their skirts as the sole reason for up-skirting and unwanted sexual attention,’ they wrote in a since-deleted post following the assembly.
The students also claimed that they had been warned that rolling up their skirts could be a ‘distraction’ for male teachers and their fellow pupils.
In addition to the protest by the students, following the assembly a number of parents took to the school’s Facebook page to share their disgust at the ‘victim-blaming’ tone taken by the school’s staff.
‘Girls should not be told how to dress to stop males looking at them,’ one parent wrote, while another told the Manchester Evening News, ‘Elton are always complaining to parents about the children’s skirts, jewellery, uniform, make-up. Our children are there to be educated and they concentrate more on everything else.’
In response to the controversy, Elton High School headteacher Jonathan Wilton claimed that the issue of short skirts had been raised separately to the discussion about sexual assault, and apologised for ‘any false impression’ given by the assembly.
He wrote in a letter to parents:
We held assemblies in school last week to discuss the issue of peer on peer abuse across society, how it presents itself in schools and how it should be reported and addressed,
As is usual at the start of the school day, our assemblies also made reference to the need to wear uniform smartly, including by not rolling up skirts at the waist. Following the assembly, some students took to social media to express concerns that we had linked shortened skirts and abuse. This was absolutely not our intention.
Wilton added that the school had held ‘positive’ discussions with students following the incident, saying, ‘We will continue to work closely with our students so that they remain confident that abuse and harassment have no place in our school culture.’
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Manchester Evening News