“We recently campaigned our school, Willoughby Public, to be able to wear our sports uniform any time we like. We felt it wasn’t fair that boys were able to run around in shorts and shirts while girls had to run around in heavy dresses. It’s much easier and more comfortable to be dressed in our sports uniform to play sports at recess and lunch than a dress – dresses are from the olden days, and it is the 21st century!
Originally it was Penelope’s idea to campaign the school, but we all helped. What started as an idea in Mr Orchard’s classroom during free time developed into a petition for the class to sign. Then we took it around the school during recess and lunch to gain more student signatures. Many of our friends helped, but the three of us took on most of the work. In the beginning, we were thinking about creating a whole new school uniform for girls but the school advised it would take too long and be a far greater undertaking.
We started in term three last year, when we were in Year 5. The school said that we needed to gain over 150 signatures for the petition to pass. By the end of term four we had not only reached our target – we achieved over 200 signatures. They were mostly from students in years 4 to 6 but also included the teachers and staff. Mr Orchard, our teacher last year, was very supportive and helped to take it to the P&C meeting for discussion. Mrs Charlton (School Principal), Mr Michaels and the Year 5 and 6 teachers all signed in support of the petition. The teachers agreed we should have a choice to wear what we want.
The official announcement was made a couple of weeks ago in front of the year 3 to 6 school lines. The Principal advised the students of the changes and we stood up in recognition of our achievement. The school newsletter has since included news of the campaign and its outcome, and the choice is now there for all girls to be able to wear their sports uniform or tunic any day of the week, except the tunic is still to be worn for school photos and excursions when we are representing the school.
Now we all try to wear our sports uniform to school every day, unless it’s in the wash. Since the boys already have shorts and a shirt as their uniform the changes are really for the girls to be able to wear their sports uniform throughout the week. The boys were a bit disappointed when they realised that they can’t wear the sports uniform every day but they were still happy to sign the petition.
We feel Willoughby Public School is a progressive school; they really listened to us, listened to what we had to say and helped us to achieve our goals. Not only did the school let us make decisions they gave us the choice and have allowed change in the school as a result. We’ve since heard on the news that other schools are also taking on similar campaigns. If any kids have ideas like this in the future we think schools should be as supportive as WPS has been for us. We didn’t really set out for fame – it just makes us happy to be given the choice to wear our sports uniform.”