Blue Socks - The School Uniform Debate

The Blue Socks Case of 1973

On 12 March 1973 a girl (aged 14) at a school in south east England was refused admission to lessons because she turned up for school wearing blue socks rather than white. She had actually been wearing blue socks since Christmas and her parents were unaware that they were unacceptable as part of the school uniform. When the girl's father asked to speak to the Headmistress he was told that she was not prepared to speak to him and that she would not teach the girl whilst she was wearing blue socks.


A second girl, also attending the same school, wore blue socks on 13 March, and was also refused admission to lessons. Her mother had been ill and had not washed any white socks. Both girls and their parents were finally told that if they did not conform to the rules that they would be transferred to separate schools the following week. Both girls had got good school records and had not been in trouble before. On the 16 March a newspaper ran a story about the case.


The girls and their parents fought against the transfer, however the Headmistress refused to back down. The parents attended a meeting with the Headmistress and were given a copy of the school rules that made no mention of school uniform (image included above). The girls were also threatened with bad references that would follow them through life and prevent their further education.


The education authority became involved and a letter (image included above) was written to the parents warning them of what would happen (i.e. exclusion and transferral) if they did not get their daughters to conform.  


Do you think that the school was right to exclude the girls for wearing blue socks rather than white?


Do you think that the threat of transfering the girls and giving them poor references was taking the matter too far?

Do you think it was the parents' responsibility to make sure that their children stuck to the rules? Or do you think that they should have been able to challenge the rules?

Document icon Learning article provided by: Hull History Centre | 
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