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PE kit petition at The Deepings School highlights pupils' anxiety over changing rooms

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A petition has been started calling on a school to allow pupils to stay in their PE kit all day amid fears about getting changed.

The Deepings School has made the decision that from September, pupils will no longer be allowed to come into school in their PE kit, which it says is due to the decreasing risk of catching covid.

A petition was started on Monday against the change, calling on the school to keep the PE policy in place. The creator of the petition is believed to be a pupil and so far, it has received nearly 200 signatures.

Richard Lord, headteacher at The Deepings School
Richard Lord, headteacher at The Deepings School

The petition reads: “Throwing young people into a situation where they are getting changed once again amongst their peers, will inevitably lead to further anxiety and vulnerability.”

Some parents have also signed the petition, with one parent saying: “I will not force [my daughter] to undress somewhere she does not feel comfortable.”

Since September 2020, pupils who have PE lessons that day have been allowed to come to school wearing their kit and stay in it all day to minimise the risk of catching covid when pupils were in close contact in the changing rooms.

Richard Lord, headteacher of The Deepings School, said the change to the policy is being brought in because staff believe it is not hygienic for pupils to sit in their PE kits all day after a long lesson of being active.

He said: “We would listen to concerns from any other students and offer support in overcoming any worries.”

Mr Lord said the policy to allow pupils to come to school in their PE kit had been kept for longer than at other schools because pupils and staff were still testing positive for the illness.

The school, which has almost 1,500 pupils, has recently renovated the changing rooms and added a room for people questioning their sexual identity to get dressed independently.

“We have put in provisions for people questioning their gender identity and will be helping those students who are more anxious about getting changed,” Mr Lord added.

To recognise the effect of covid on pupils mental health, the school has doubled the number of mentors and some staff have been counselling courses.

The school also works in close proximity with Bourne charity Don’t Lose Hope to provide counselling for pupils who can then continue with this after they finish their education at the school if they choose to.

“The pandemic has been troubling for a lot of families,” Mr Lord said.

“It is all about balance for us.

“We will always have a focus on exams to ensure our pupils can go on to make a contribution to the community but this has to go hand in hand with their wellbeing.”

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