Taking an Active Approach to School Uniforms

Tue, August 29, 2017

We are very pleased to announce that St Mark’s will transition into a new uniform from 2018.

As many parents would be aware, there has been much discussion in the media around the flexibility and appropriateness of many school uniforms. As we move into a more forward thinking world, we need to respond by providing students with a uniform that reflects a more modern community, whilst upholding the values and ethos of the School. The uniform needs to allow for greater choice and provide gender-neutral options.

The School has, over time, taken on feedback from parents, Old Scholars and, most importantly, students. With this information we have consulted with many suppliers to find a fresh and attractive uniform that offers options for students, differentiates between the sub-schools and is cost effective.

The biggest change is to the girls’ uniform, offering a new style shirt and skirt/culotte option which will be worn throughout the year. The new design is better suited to the School environment and to learning. This uniform, much like the current boys’ uniform, will be supplemented by other items during the winter months. Girls will still be able to wear trousers in the winter months. There is also a new girls’ sport short for Years 6 to 12, which features a bike short inside, allowing for greater movement.

The boys’ uniform remains largely unchanged, although the expectation will be that boys tuck in their shirts during Terms 2 and 3, when a tie is worn.

Why the decision to change?

Recent study by the University of Canberra has found that girls are 19% less active than boys of the same age. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, noted that on average, girls take almost 2,000 fewer steps a day than boys, and eight-year-old girls had 18 percent lower cardio respiratory fitness than boys of the same age.

The findings suggest that school is a stronger influence on boys’ activity levels compared to girls, and that there needed to be more physical activity opportunities provided to girls. In an unrelated study published in the Journal of Gender Studies, it was found skirts and dresses “restrict movement in real ways; wearers must negotiate how they sit, how they play, and how quickly they move. Skirt-wearing, consciously and unconsciously, imposes considerations of modesty and immodesty, in ways that trousers do not”.

St Mark’s believes that student wellbeing is crucial, and needs to be addressed on physical and social/emotional level. The understanding that girls need the same freedom to play as what boys enjoy, was a key driver in a review of the School’s current School uniform. The review also took into account feedback provided by parents to the Uniform Shop, as well as informal discussions
with the community, including Old Scholars, parents and students. Common concerns included the cost to parents of having to purchase two sets of uniforms for girls, the ‘fit’ of some uniform items on diverse body shapes, the lack of ‘breathability’ of the dress fabric and the provision of gender neutral options.

Some elements were easy to address, with a new style of winter trousers already available for girls in Middle and Senior school. The new trousers have a better fit, with a number of girls already choosing to wear them this winter. The other concerns took more time to address, and required a lengthy period of research to find a solution that met the needs of students, remained in keeping with St Mark’s traditions and values, and minimised the cost to parents.

The School has always taken pride in our smartly dressed students, and retaining the formal look was just as important as providing a play-friendly alternative. The small variations in uniform that mark children’s progress through each of the sub-schools was also kept in mind. Moving from socks in Primary to tights in Middle School, from the short ties to the longer ones in Senior School, are small milestones, but one the students seem to cherish.

What is changing?

The biggest changes are to the girls’ uniforms. The girls will now have one uniform for the whole year, which represents an estimated cost saving of $70. The blue shirt, modified with a tailored hem band, will be worn throughout the year. In winter, the uniform will be supplemented by long socks (Years 2 to 5), tights (Years 6 to 12), and jumpers and ties. Blazers are required for Middle and Senior School students in Terms 2 and 3. 

Girls in Years 7 to 12 will have a new pleated skirt, in a maroon fabric, which features slender pin stripes in the School’s other core colours of blue and gold. For girls in Years 2 to 6, the skirt is replaced by a culotte. The culotte is in the same fabric as the skirt and is the same length as the skirt. The cut and fit of the culottes will ensure that when the girls are standing, it looks identical to the new skirt, while still allowing for active play. In Years 7 to 12, girls will have a choice between the culotte and the skirt.

Download Information Sheet (includes transition information)