Head’s job in peril over call for school uniform modesty

Council bosses are investigating a head teacher who urged school girls to show more modesty in how they wear their uniform.

Robert Kelly, rector at Berwickshire High School in the Scottish town of Duns, said flouting uniform rules by wearing short skirts and half-buttoned blouses would encourage inappropriate thoughts among boys.

But some parents thought he was blaming girls for unwanted male attention, and he is now under investigation by the Scottish Borders Council.


However, the head of a Scottish school leaders’ union has leapt to Mr Kelly’s defence.

Ken Cunningham said: “There will be a lot of sympathy for Mr Kelly as it’s a difficult issue that affects schools around the country – there’s no way he should lose his job and I hope common sense will prevail.

“I’m very worried about sexualisation, particularly of young girls, which I think has got worse.

“Parents and schools have a duty to ensure that dress is sensible – common sense is the key factor – and the whole school community has to remember that school is, after all, a place of learning.”

Dress code

Mr Kelly’s decision has also won the backing of education campaigner Nick Seaton.

Mr Seaton said: “Schools have a right to set a dress code with clearly defined rules. If girls are wearing skirts that are too short, then they should be sent home.

“Everyone wants to see youngsters looking smart and children will stretch the rules slightly, but let’s not forget children go to school to learn.”


A member of the school’s parent council, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We feel the rector should resign. Suggesting that girls are responsible for inappropriate male sexual attention by the way they dress is outrageous and deeply offensive, and risks undermining these students’ self-confidence.”

But Mr Kelly, who made his call for modesty during a girls-only assembly, has defended his decision to tackle the issue.

He said: “We felt that a girls-only assembly would be the best way to tackle the situation.

“Wearing skimpy, revealing clothes is provocative and distracting for the boys and is sending out all the wrong messages.”


Last week a children’s author warned that Britain’s sexualised society had caused two middle-class girls to become call girls and sell their bodies to football stars.

Bel Mooney, writing in the Daily Mail, attacked popular culture that promotes female promiscuity as ’empowerment’ and perpetuates the ‘happy hooker’ myth.

She also warned about the ‘pornification’ of teenage boys whose attitude to sex comes from viewing pornography on the internet.


Bel Mooney said: “Little by little, the gutter has become the cultural main street”.

She added: “As a children’s author, I have found myself in many schools over the past 25 years and noticed one significant change — nowadays, girls of ten and over seem to have grown up far too quickly.

“So many aspects of popular culture — from fashion, to pop lyrics and videos, to advertising, through to TV programmes like Big Brother and The X Factor — peddle a combined message of sleaze and greed.

“This corrupting influence is very hard to avoid. Once, a little girl might have wanted to be a teacher or a doctor (and of course, many still do), but now, sadly, she is likely to say she wants to be a model, a pop star or a WAG.”


Her comments come after top music producer Mike Stock criticised the music industry over provocative pop videos which resemble soft pornography.

He said such videos were sexualising young children.

Mr Stock said: “The music industry has gone too far. It’s not about me being old fashioned. It’s about keeping values that are important in the modern world.”

And he commented: “Kids are being forced to grow up too young. Look at the videos. I wouldn’t necessarily want my young kids to watch them.

“I would certainly be embarrassed to sit there with my mum.”

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