SCHOOLS that demand girls wear skirts could be forced to scrap their rules if a landmark sex discrimination case goes ahead.

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has told the Education Secretary it intends to take a school, which it refuses to name, to court unless its female pupils are allowed to wear trousers as well as skirts.

If the EOC presses ahead with the case, it will be the first time equal opportunities legislation about school uniform policy has been tested in the courts.

But in February 2000, a North- East school was forced to change its rules after the EOC threatened to take a similar sex discrimination case to county court.

Then, the EOC backed 14-year-old Jo Hale and her mother, Claire, as they fought Whickham Comprehensive School, in Gates-head, after she complained about feeling cold in winter.

Two years on, Jo, a sixth form student at the school, said pupils have the freedom of choice they called for.

She said: "A lot of girls choose to wear trousers now. It is much better in the winter because they are warm and practical, but a lot still wear skirts in the summer."