“ Should school uniform be abolished? „
As a kid I always hated the school uniform. Then again, I hated most things about school, but that's a different topic. The topic of school uniforms has been around for years, usually with children saying it should be abolished and most parents being for wearing a uniform. There are of course many different things to consider.
Does uniform take away the children's identity? Does it bring everyone together by making them more equal? Does it stop bullying?
As much as I always hated the school uniform I don't believe it should be abolished, although I do think some uniforms should be improved.
When I was at school
School uniform got worse as I got older and changed schools. The first school uniform was a red jumper/cardigan, white shirt and grey skirt/trousers. At the age of about 5 the colour didn't really matter to me, or to any of the kids, and luckily a tie was optional so the school uniform was never really an issue. At primary school a tie had to be worn and this was when school uniform took its first steps to being worse. I don't remember them being strict about how the ties were, but they did often get in the way and when you're running around the playground the last thing you want is a tie to keep flying up.
Once at secondary school the uniforms got even worse. Previously, we'd been allowed to wear any coat we wished, but now we had to wear plain black coats. As before, we also had to wear ties and this school was stricter on how they should be. In registration we often had tie inspections (not that this stopped most people altering them once we left the classroom, but certain teachers would often force students to redo them while others didn't mind so long as you did the work).
The uniform was simple; black coats, black shoes, black trousers/skirts (grey was not acceptable), black jumper with the school logo on, red tie with the logo on, and a white shirt, which always had to be tucked in.
Wearing all black wasn't what bothered me, although I think it's safe to say that even as teenagers we all knew it wasn't a good uniform in winter when we all had to walk down a main road wearing all black when it was dark (in both the mornings and late afternoons). What bothered me was the jumper. It was fairly thin so I was always cold in winter and it was rather itchy. They were a decent quality, but a really horrible material. The jumpers have been changed slightly now, but they are still quite thin I believe and they are still black.
My view as a kid
I'd always worn a uniform for school and the idea of wearing a uniform didn't really bother me, it was the problems with the uniform itself (e.g. all black and uncomfortable and, of course, the ties) that bothered me. If the uniforms had been improved, even with just being allowed to wear a coat with some colour on and a non itchy jumper, then wearing one wouldn't have seemed so bad. As it was, I couldn't wait to change my clothes when I got home.
When at school or walking home did I want to feel part of that school or proudly show off which school I went to? Not in the slightest. I never really thought about it, but had I been asked I most certainly would have said no, just simply because I never liked school. It wasn't a bad school, far from it, and I was fine with all the subjects but I could think of better ways to spend my days and the idea of being part of sitting in a room all day with others working wasn't my idea of something I should be proud of.
What I loved was non uniform days. Sadly they didn't come around often enough, but when they did I was happy to even have one day without the annoying uniform. This brings me two common points I've heard. One, you lose your identity wearing a uniform and two, people get bullied over what they wear.
For the first, I think the school still treated us all as individuals. On the other hand, when I wasn't in uniform I felt I could be myself more. My clothes made me feel more comfortable and showed who I was, not because they were anything special like designer labels or really colourful and made me stand out, but simply because it was what I wanted to wear, not what I was forced to wear.
For the second, kids will always make comments about others, but I was never aware of anyone being bullied over clothing. Some people may have said the odd horrible comment first thing in the morning, but it was soon forgotten and I never heard or saw it leading to anything worse.
As a kid I would have been happier not to have a uniform, but for some things I was glad of it. I didn't have to think about what I was wearing in the morning and it made it so much better when I got home and changed as I could just forget about school.
My view now
I always knew school uniforms cost a lot, but that never bothered me as a kid as I was never buying it. I don't have children, but now I'm older I can understand how much of a struggle it can be for some parents to be able to afford to buy it.
I think the questions I mentioned at the start are very important things to consider, but I think there will always be good and bad points to uniform and a lot of it depends on not only the school but the children's upbringing and environment.
With or without school uniform there will always be bullying and while a uniform may make the children feel part of something and equal it's important that they are themselves and that there are other things to help bring everyone together.
Some say that many kids work better if they are in uniform. Personally, I worked just as hard either way. Perhaps some kids didn't work as hard when not in uniform, but then again we only had a few days a year where we had no uniform so it was something different. I imagine if it were like that everyday they wouldn't see it as something exciting and they'd work just as hard as they did when in uniform.
I think schools will always have their own ideas on whether or not they have a school uniform, no matter what people think. Rather than focusing so much on that and making clothing a big deal maybe it would be better to focus on how and what the children are being taught.
Whether or not you want to be part of the school, you are and the uniform is a way of showing that. Sure costs can be way too high, but you have to pay out for clothing either way and for certain items you can buy them cheaper if you shop around. Wearing a uniform means you always know what you will be wearing, which saves time every morning and in some schools may prevent bullying or people feeling upset over a comment made on an item of clothing.
Overall, I don't think school uniform should be abolished. I do, however, think that each school should look at their uniform and their policies to make sure their uniforms are suitable, comfortable, affordable and still allowing each child to be themselves.
School uniform is one topic that is always going to be a source of great debate amongst teachers, parents and students, with a minority always willing to claim that being forced to conform is a violation of the individual persons right to freedom of speech.
I have 3 different perspectives on this. Firstly, I was a child, who was not overly fond of her secondary school uniform, then a teacher, trying to enforce the rules, then a parent, trying to afford it and get my own children to conform.
Firstly, I fully agree with the fact that every school has the right to set a dress code, and that it is the child's and parent's responsibility to follow these guidelines. In the school I worked at, we had a contract of dress and behaviour we expected within the school, and this was at the front of the child's planner. Every year, one of my first jobs as a form tutor was to get the children in my class to take these home and get their parent to sign it. I then made sure the child and myself had also signed it, and then I could refer back to it when there was any straying.
Most schools choose a fairly sensible approach to uniform, with flexibility to some extent in the style of the outfit, but uniformity in colours. Primary schools will often be a certain colour of trousers/skirt, with a polo T shirt and a certain coloured jumper, which may or may not have to have the school logo. I feel the difficulties can arise when children get to secondary school age where they want a bit more freedom of expression as they get older, but also that some school's have dress codes that may be a bit overly strict.This is where controversy can then occur.
---Out of the mouths of babes---
As a child, I was less than fond of the brown school uniform at my secondary school. It might have been fashionable in the 1970s when it was designed, but by the 1990s it was a little ridiculed. However, we mostly complied with the uniform. Some rebels would pull threads out of their brown and gold striped tie, or try and tie the tie too short, but we all looked pretty smart, and had a good learning ethos at the school.
I found that on non-uniform days, there was a lot of pressure to dress a certain way, and that sometimes there would be comments made about the way individuals dressed on those days. Some people would use it as a day to go to school plastered in make up or wearing inappropriate jewellery and clothes. These days were always fun as a child, but when I became an adult myself and was a teacher trying to work with children, I saw the downside of the non-uniform day.
---The teacher's perspective---
When these happened in my school I taught at, usually as a way of raising money for a charity event, and not necessarily because it was a 'fun day' in school, there was a definite downshift in the attitude of the kids in my care. It was seen as a day for fun, and not learning, so it would be very challenging to get them to work on these days in a suitable manner.
As a form tutor as well, I would also end up having to be tactful about jewellery on display that might end up as a safety issue or cause the child to have the jewellery stolen, or make up or dress that was age inappropriate, or perhaps could even be classed as a bit 'slutty'. There would also be inappropriate comments verging on bullying directed to the goths and emos, and those who were a bit less fashionable or children asking my opinion on whether I liked what they were wearing. Learning was the last thing we would be doing on one of these days, and eventually the head put a ban on them for a while for this reason.
As a science teacher too, we did experiments that were messy, and school uniform is a bit more robust to these demands, and I was less worried about clothes setting on fire, or being eaten through by chemicals when it was mostly a polyester/nylon mix.
---My views as a mum of 2---
Now, as a parent, having to kit out one child at school in uniform, and one due to start nursery which has the same uniform (but not compulsory, I have different thoughts again. My first is annoyance at shops who have the monopoly on logo'd school uniform, and charge what they like for the privelige, often for clothes that are poorly made. The cost to kit out two small boys is more than I thought it would be, and I would say I have spent about £200 on clothes, bags, shoes and lunchboxes over the past couple of months. (And then add on time spent adjusting trouser lengths, and sewing in name lablels. )
However, when they get to school, they look very lovely in this uniform. And, when they are playing hard at nursery and digging, painting, crafting, baking, and whatever messy play they like, I am relieved they are not messing up their other clothes. If the uniform gets a stain they can keep wearing it, but they still have nice
stuff to wear with me.
Also, there are no comments to them about what they have on because they look the same as everyone else, they feel very grown up and ready to go to the school environment and do as the teachers say.
My only gruntle then is that I make sure my kids go to school every day in full school uniform, but others sometimes sneak in with trainers on, or jeans, or in their own clothes. Then I get 'But why can't I do that?' and the answer always makes me look mean, when really I am just a stickler for conforming as I know how hard my job was when parents don't conform.
---my final thoughts---
I do have a problem with uniform codes that are too strict. E.g. My local comprehensive uses a blazer, but then states that any outer coat must also be all black. Not only is this difficult to get hold of, but also I feel that something they might wear away from school too should not be quite so strictly enforced. After all, they take this off when they get there with no impact on learning. From my own experience too. Some teachers are more strict than others about using the school rules. The amount of kids who would adjust uniform and remove jewellery before entering my room made me laugh, as they knew I had envelopes at the ready and would confiscate it.
Also, sometimes school's do not acknowledge much that not all parents can afford all that is needed for a modern school uniform, so some flexibility is needed as it is better for the child to attend in some uniform and participate in some learning rather than not be at school at all.
I feel I finish where I started. School's do have the right to make the child wear the uniform as parents are aware of the uniform criteria when they complete the application for a place. Parents should do their utmost to support the school to make the teacher's job less about administration of rules and more about teaching, and the child is probably going to try and flout it a bit, but between the parent and teacher, the adults make the rules.