Teachers comfortable with dress code

The NSW government's new dress code for public school teachers was "obvious" and already expected of teachers, according to Coniston Public School teacher Elizabeth Heritage.

Mrs Heritage said the code set a good standard, especially for incoming teachers.

But teachers in the Illawarra already wore professional outfits to work.

"I've never seen a teacher turn up to school in rubber thongs," she said.

The kindergarten and year 1 teacher mostly wears flat shoes and pants to work, because she works with young children.

"I teach skipping, I crawl on the floor for drama and teach painting," she said.

"So a pencil skirt, high heels and stockings might be appropriate for someone working in an office, but I would only wear that for an official occasion."

Mrs Heritage said most teachers would not be affected by the new code.

Principal David Lamb agreed.

"Generally speaking, in the Illawarra we don't have a problem," he said.

Mr Lamb said the code set a good standard for new teachers while still allowing for flexibility in teachers' roles, such as sport.

Wages are 'more important'

Illawarra educators have welcomed a new dress code for public school teachers, but believe it is not a high priority.

Ripped clothes, T-shirts, singlets, tracksuits and rubber thongs have been deemed inappropriate for teachers by the NSW government, which released the code on Sunday.

Revealing or suggestive clothing is banned, while collared shirts are now mandatory for men.

Midriffs and strapless tops and dresses are considered inappropriate, as well as slogans promoting alcohol or tobacco.

Illawarra’s 4000 public school teachers must abide by the code from term 2.

Figtree High School deputy principal David Deitz said the announcement would barely impact teachers because they already dressed appropriately.

‘‘The dress code announcement is fairly insignificant in relation to many of the other issues currently confronting our schools,’’ he said.

‘‘Public education is currently undergoing a significant restructuring process.’’

Mr Deitz said the school was focusing on the ‘‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’’ education reform, which gives the high school more authority on how it spends allocated funding.

Rolling out the Gonski reform was another priority for educators, according to the NSW Teachers Federation.

The federation’s regional organiser Nicole Calnan said the dress code was common sense and a ‘‘non issue’’.

‘‘The overwhelming majority of teachers have got that covered, no pun intended,’’ she said.

Ms Calnan hoped the dress code would not distract the government from more important topics.

‘‘If the state government was serious about lifting the status of the profession, it would look at reviewing the state wages policy,’’ she said.

The policy caps salary increases for public sector workers, including teachers, at 2.5per cent per year.

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