Published: 10:08, 11 May 2021
| Updated: 14:46, 11 May 2021
A school uniform shop boss has won a battle to get the standard length of its "too short" girls PE skorts made longer.
The Schoolwear Centre in Margate, which provides uniforms for children across Thanet, has been petitioning its suppliers to try to get the item of clothing - a combination of a skirt and shorts - made two inches longer.
Now, its main supplier has agreed to roll out skorts which are one-and-a-half inches longer as the standard length.
Managing director Siobhan Margetson, who has a background in looked after children - youngsters in care - says there has been an ongoing problem with the skorts, which are worn by pupils at a number of the district's secondary schools.
"It's historic, they are too short and it's a problem that goes back years," she said.
"Due to my background, I'm aware of how children are objectified. We need to send them to school with appropriate clothing.
"We have spent the last three to four years petitioning our suppliers and getting support to make our skorts two inches longer - we don't approve with how short they are.
"We petitioned the Schoolwear Association to change this across the whole of the product line.
"The boys shorts are really long and the skorts are really short. It's not ok to have that disparity."
Ms Margetson says its main supplier Falcon Sportswear, one of the biggest school sportswear suppliers, has now decided to standardise the longer skorts, which are one-and-a-half inches longer.
"This is a real success within the industry, it's such a positive message," she said.
"We want to make sure we're not objectifying our children.
"We've put our head above the parapet with this but we felt it was really important.
"We should be safeguarding our children, regardless of their demographic, ideology, gender - every child should feel that they can have a uniform that represents themselves.
"This change will reassure families that we have their children's best interests at heart."
The Margate shop will no longer sell the shorter length skort and will only be holding the longer length as its standard provision.
One person feeling particularly happy about the change is Ramsgate mum Jo Keeler.
Two weeks ago she complained to St George's CofE Foundation School in Broadstairs after seeing a young pupil walking through town in a "revealing" PE skort.
After her complaint, children at the school were told to get changed out of their kit and back into their school uniform before walking home.
Mum-of-three Miss Keeler says she is thrilled about the change in the standard length skort.
"It's about time this was changed," she said.
"The sexualisation of girls is a big issue. We need to keep kids as kids.
"For a company to go to the suppliers and make a stand like this is brilliant.
"We can't stop kids wearing what they like in some instances, but PE kits should not be sexualising children.
"It feels like a victory, which you don't always expect to happen."