Parents and pupils say they were shocked by the employee’s comments (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

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Staff at a school have apologised to children after a worker allegedly told the girls wearing shorts could put them at risk of being raped.

The youngsters were apparently advised by the female employee to wear PE skirts instead of sports shorts on hot days to avoid being ‘noticed’, reports ChronicleLive.

The individual reportedly said doing so could put the girls – some of whom were as young as 12 – at risk of being sexually assaulted.

Senior staff at Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School are said to have apologised to the children for the "entirely unacceptable" comments which, they said, "are not the views of the school".

Female pupils in Year 8 at the school, in Rothbury, Northumberland, were allegedly warned that wearing short shorts could put them 'at risk' of rape or sexual assault.

It's understood that the students had been attending school wearing their PE kits on days when they had PE classes, to avoid having to use school changing rooms during the pandemic.

Dr Thomlinson Church of England Middle School in Rothbury has taken the complaints seriously
(Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

In the hot weather, some girls had worn sports shorts to school, and were told to wear uniform-approved PE skirts instead.

Arriving at the school on Wednesday in the skirts, children, aged 12 and 13, said they heard a female member of staff tell one girl she was pleased to see her wearing the longer skirt.

Shorts, the woman was said to have insisted, could get girls "noticed" and put them "at risk of being raped".

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The comments provoked anger among the school community, with a number of boys in Year 8 wearing skirts to school as a show of solidarity with their female classmates.

One mother, who has two children at the middle school, said she was "shocked" that an education worker would talk to students in this way – but impressed by the children's reaction.

"It just blows my mind,” she said. “My worry would be that if one of these girls were sexually assaulted they might not feel able to tell anybody because, in some way, how they've chosen to dress has contributed to them being assaulted. There is never any excuse for sexual assault.

"I think it's great that the kids had the strength of character and resolve to say that this message is ridiculous, despite it being given to them by an adult."

In a statement, a school spokesperson said: "Children have been reminded of the correct school uniform to wear for PE.

The school said the views of the individual were 'entirely unacceptable'
(Image: Getty Images/Cultura RF)

"On Tuesday 15th June, 2021 it was reported that a female member of staff had made inappropriate comments regarding the length of skirts.

"The matter was investigated, and the relevant authorities were informed. The school is working closely with its HR advisers to ensure appropriate policies and procedures are being followed.

"The views expressed [by the member of staff] were entirely unacceptable and are not the views of the school. The school has apologised to the children and the head teacher has personally contacted all parents whose children were directly involved in the incident."

The spokesperson confirmed that, following the incident, a number of boys had come to school wearing skirts. The skirts were in line with the school's uniform and "no sanctions" were issued.

It's understood a similar message was sent to parents across the school.

One parent who received the message welcomed the school's condemnation of the comments – but said she hoped the teachers would take the opportunity to reinforce messages about consent and emphasise that victims cannot be blamed for sexual assault.

She said: "Obviously it's great that they've apologised, but I think they need to go a bit further.

"I would like to see them do some work with the children around it, not just those who were involved because it's gone right round the school. They do have relationship education where they talk about consent, but I think this would be a good time to go over that."