A children’s counsellor fears that the humiliation of being turned away on the first day of school for wearing a ‘too short’ skirt will exacerbate anxiety among teenagers.
Scores of girls were sent home, some in tears, on their first day back at Tring School last week, for wearing skirts that were deemed too revealing by teachers.
And according to one mother, some have been so traumatised that they temporarily stopped eating.
Becky Willoughby, a child and family therapist from Willow Therapy in Tring, said: “I have seen a rapid increase in children from the age of nine with anxiety and some of that may be dealing with children who are entering secondary schools.
“A lot of the anxiety is around getting things wrong, fitting in, and the transition across can be really stressful for them.
“To be turned away at such a critical time in their education could have a huge impact upon their experience of school.”
Tring School introduced the uniform crackdown for the start of the new school year. It is believed that around 100 students were either sent home or banned from the classroom, including Year 7 girls starting secondary school for the first time.
Becky added: “If these are children that are wearing skirts that are incredibly short, then obviously being sent home makes sense as boundaries are to be adhered too, but if we are talking about young children - Year 7s - entering a new school environment who have gone out with their parents and they have tried to buy the correct uniform, in some cases being turned away from school can trigger further anxiety for them.
“This may also have an effect on newly-established friendship groups with children’s possible fears over being judged by others.”
Catrin Williams, whose 14-year-old daughter has special needs, said: “It was quite a traumatic event. My daughter wouldn’t eat all weekend.
“I have seen other parents mention that they couldn’t get their children to eat over the weekend and things like that.”
She has requested an appointment with the school’s leadership team.
One mum told the Gazette: “The handling of this situation is disgraceful.
“Young insecure women being reprimanded so publicly and actually being refused entry to the property and left standing on the pavement in tears.”
Dozens of girls were turned away from Tring School after their uniform skirts were judged to be inappropriate by teachers.
The town’s official school uniform supplier Almar reported a queue of around 100 girls desperately waiting to buy replacement skirts at its High Street store on Friday.
Parents have been left furious over the back to school crackdown with some mums and dads claiming they were not informed that their child was sent home and reports of youngsters from surrounding villages being left stranded in the town.
One dad said: “It’s ludicrous for a school to act in this way.
“We fretted over this for weeks before my daughter went back. We looked at her skirt on Thursday night and Friday morning, and it’s down to her knee. When I went to pick my daughter up, all the girls being sent home looked perfectly respectable to me.
“This is bullying. Kids have no voice, they just get shown up. It’s a terrible thing.”
In July, the school’s assistant headteacher Gayle Raybould wrote to parents to stress the uniform expectations for the new term.
The letter included images of unsuitable skinny jeans and Lycra skirts.
It said: “I would ask that you show your support for the school and your child’s education, by ensuring they are wearing the correct uniform throughout the year and thus avoid being sent home or placed into isolation.”
But it seems that the message did not get through to some parents as girls from Year 7, who started the school year on Thursday, and girls from older years who returned to the classroom on Friday, were sent home.
Director at Almar Carolyn Sanders said: “We had about 100 girls queuing for skirts. We are doing everything we can to help people and we are ordering skirts if we haven’t got them in at the moment.”
She said the longest skirt they currently offer is 22 inches but it is understood that another supplier has a longer 24 inch skirt.
Headteacher Sue Collings said: “We believe that students looking smart and professional is an important element of being a successful school. We also believe that if students are consistently dressed in the correct uniform it enables us to focus on teaching and learning.
“On Friday the vast majority have arrived at school correctly dressed and ready for lessons.
“They have been praised for their efforts and thanked for following the uniform rules.”