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Should school uniforms be abolished?

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Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by Ivan on Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:49 am

You may have seen one of those t-shirts which say: “Remember that you’re unique, just like everyone else”. That’s very true, so why make all the children in a school wear the same clothes?

School uniforms started in charity schools in England in the sixteenth century. The first school to use them was Christ’s Hospital, which was founded in the City of London in 1552 and moved to Horsham in West Sussex in 1902. London citizens provided the children with clothes - notably a long blue coat – and the school still uses the same uniform today.

One theory is that a school uniform gives children the appearance of equality, regardless of how wealthy their parents are. That doesn’t always apply. When I was at school, a fellow pupil was the son of a millionaire car dealer; his uniform was noticeably superior in quality to my standard Co-op issue! Mind you, that might not be the case with many schools these days. An Office of Fair Trading investigation in 2012 suggested that 75% of UK state schools placed restrictions on where uniforms could be bought. Such a move typically adds £5 to the price tag for each item, leaving parents an estimated £52 million a year worse off.

That announcement followed a Labour Party campaign to highlight the cost of school uniforms. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said that this Tory-led government had scrapped rules forcing schools to restrict costs. Lib Dem education minister David Laws has said he wants to stop profit-sharing schemes which exist between some schools and shops, and he's issued 'guidance' to end the practice of using a single uniform supplier, in the hope it will enable parents to shop around. 

Author and historian Alexander Davidson says “uniforms give schools a sense of identity and cohesion", adding that they suggest schools are there “to provide certainty and order”. However, Davidson also says that uniforms provide children with the opportunity to rebel, and that’s a major reason why, as a teacher, I disliked school uniforms. I remember getting a note from a micromanaging head saying that a girl in my tutor group was wearing white socks. Big deal. The same school had a metalwork teacher who would waste half a lesson straightening boys’ ties. I’m afraid I was more interested in what was going on between pupils’ ears than what was around their necks or on their feet.

It can get even more silly. A Newcastle school stopped fifty pupils from going to their normal lessons and put them in isolation all day. Why? For wearing the wrong trousers. Apparently, Heaton Manor School had been “tightening its uniform rules” but had not anticipated the number of trouser styles the pupils would wear. If you don’t have a school uniform, such absurd situations couldn’t arise.

In my book, school uniforms are characteristic of militarism, and a lot of countries seem to manage without them. With a few exceptions, France hasn’t had school uniforms since 1968. The Germans have 'school clothing guidelines' in a few states, but uniforms in a traditional sense are almost never seriously proposed. In the USA in 2010, about 25% of schools required a uniform.

However, although it has never been my experience, some children are reckoned to like wearing a uniform. Laws claims it “can be an important sign of identity and pride”, and maybe that’s why in 2011, 95% of Christ’s Hospital pupils voted to keep their distinctive uniform with its blue coat and yellow stockings. Whether pupils at St Quentin High or Bash Street Comprehensive would show such devotion to a less flamboyant (or to any) uniform is another matter. As it says on those t-shirts, we’re all unique, so why try to make all children look the same?

Sources used:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29047752

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-24095539

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/05/heaton-manor-school-newcastle-apologises-pupils-detention-wrong-trousers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_uniforms_by_country
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:40 pm

Does school uniform provide a sense of identity for the wearer, or the reverse?

http://www.theguardian.com/education/gallery/2011/jan/18/school-uniform-in-pictures
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by boatlady on Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:17 pm

Speaking from personal experience, it's useful to have a recognised school colour perhaps and a few general guidelines, but being more prescriptive is very counter productive. I will always remember (and resent) being made to stand on the sidelines at the first hockey lesson in my Grammar school because my mum had misunderstood the instructions about the regulation PE jumper.
I was never any good at hockey but maybe ---
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by stuart torr on Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:00 pm

No I do not think that school uniforms should be abolished at all, each school looks far better when the pupils are wearing the school uniforms because they look smarter and identified to each school with the uniform. Cool
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by Ivan on Sun Oct 26, 2014 12:56 pm

Parents with good incomes sometimes argue that a uniform is cheaper than the clothes their children would otherwise be demanding for school. On the other hand, some years ago, an unemployed father was understandably furious when his daughters were suspended from a school in North Shields; he had bought their uniform trousers from an outlet that wasn’t the school shop, where they were dearer.

Once you have a uniform you have to enforce it rigorously. I wonder how much teaching and learning time is wasted all over the country every day while teachers have to fuss about nail varnish, skirt length or sock colour? Enforcing a uniform code is necessarily confrontational. ‘Difficult’ pupils and their parents are the last people teachers should be alienating by arguing about the trivialities of dress.

Is there any correlation between educational ‘standards’ and clothing? Shouldn’t we just concentrate on what’s in the parcel rather than the paper in which it's wrapped?
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by stuart torr on Sun Oct 26, 2014 3:49 pm

Extremely good point Ivan, where my daughter goes to school, they have a choice of 5 shops from whence to get there uniform from.
Two are the cheaper of the two, one is the dearest by far and the other two average. I do not know if you get grants anymore like when I was at school and got my uniform, but all except the dearest accept these vouchers.
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by oftenwrong on Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:26 pm

Part of the reasoning behind a regime of standardised clothing is to remove any "class distinction" between pupils from different origins. Probably good thinking, but regimentation is not necessarily a positive influence.

Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice.
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by stuart torr on Sun Oct 26, 2014 11:03 pm

Still doesn't work though OW
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by Ivan on Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:06 pm

Wearing a school uniform doesn’t help us learn

From an article by Emma Jacobs:-

"More than 200 Bradford secondary school pupils were sent home from school this week. Their crime? Uniform infringements. They weren’t burning bras or tying their ties around their heads. They were wearing trainers or the wrong cut of trousers. But is it OK to deprive someone of a day of education just because they don’t look smart enough?

The rationale for uniform is to create a level playing field. So rich kids don’t lord it over poorer ones with their flashy jumpers and Huarache trainers and no one is teased for not following the latest trends. But the flipside of conformity is dullness. What about budding fashionistas or simply those who want to express their individuality? A bland uniform suppresses our right to express ourselves through clothes. If teens want to bully others they will find their motive and means.

Schools also say that uniforms help to set high academic standards. But some of the highest-achieving countries have no uniform. Finland’s schools top international league tables and don’t have school uniform; while the UK has the uniforms without the stunning results.

Uniform is a distraction. Teachers spend time and energy policing uniform when they could presumably be teaching us. Uniforms may work for police officers, soldiers and neo-Nazis, but they have no place in schools. The Bradford kids should wear what they want, their schools should let them – and then everyone could get on with some actual learning
."

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/07/wearing-school-uniform-doesnt-help-us-learn
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Nov 07, 2014 10:31 pm

Probably an over-reaction on the part of the new Head of a school previously declared to be under-performing.

Our educational system is in thrall to the demands of central government.  Our kids' education is subject to ever-changing instructions from the political centre, and it really must be time to leave it to the experts, the teachers.
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by stuart torr on Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:07 pm

Well guys if the kids were left to dress in anything to go to school, the poor parents who still get vouchers do they not for the uniform, would they get vouchers for clothes for school? which they could wear anytime and save the parents food money or drinking money for themselves, whereas if the vouchers are for a certain school uniform shop at least the kids would look a little smarter going to school and less out of place if you see my meaning, believe me guys I have been there, Sad
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by marcolucco on Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:16 pm

oftenwrong wrote:Our educational system is in thrall to the demands of central government.  Our kids' education is subject to ever-changing instructions from the political centre, and it really must be time to leave it to the experts, the teachers

I would once have agreed with this. The various initiatives, spawned by "educational experts" are generally disasters. They are fine in theory and useless in practice. In my involvement with the examination system I have seen what is simply organised cheating, to enhance results and have folk believe students are less thick than they are. The new brand of teacher has very little to impart and I would hesitate to call them experts.

School uniform is undoubtedly beneficial. Even pupils will agree with that - except the thugs, of course.
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by Ivan on Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:19 am

My uniform-mad school is putting style over substance

From an article by an anonymous teacher:-

"My school is in the middle of a big push on uniform. I can see why, in some cases, it can be a good idea. At best, it can be a badge of honour, a sign of belonging to a nurturing community that you’re glad to be a part of. It can be a quick way to identify others who belong, and is a salve for the endless existential crises of image-conscious teenagers who feel that they have nothing to wear. But I can’t help thinking that we’re taking it too far. Now when students come into school each morning, they are greeted with a large list of forbidden items and a reminder of the consequences if they are found to be with them. We make a huge fuss about these items and even send students home to change if they are incorrectly attired. This is the message that we are passing on to these young people: what you look like matters more than what you do or who you are.

As I watch my school become more and more corporate – the spread of people in similar-looking suits doing important things in offices – I wonder if the values of the business world are suited to education. Businesses are often faceless and cold. They are concerned with making profit. But educators don’t see the world that way: we see the potential in everyone, regardless of their circumstances. It feels like we are losing sight of this with the academy model. Fixating on the length of a pair of trousers or the right kind of shoes seems indicative of a top-down system that wants to make everyone the same, to churn people out with identikit qualifications and learning that don’t require a questioning mind
."

For the whole article:-
https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2017/jan/21/secret-teacher-my-school-is-putting-style-over-substance
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:04 pm

The Educational system as a whole is engaged upon producing identikit children, so uniform clothing is not going to either add nor detract from the overall outcome. A sense of "belonging" can be very comforting to a child, particularly one who may feel neglected at home, and the wearing of a uniform can even tone down the more yobbo characteristics of hormone-infested adolescents.

Preparation for the corporate world of work can hardly be a disadvantage.
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Re: Should school uniforms be abolished?

Post by boatlady on Sat Jan 21, 2017 5:11 pm

I'd rather schools focussed on developing an aptitude for rational and abstract thinking, an appreciation of the lessons of history and good basic literacy and numeracy skills.

If they have time after that some education on ethics and image projection through dress may be appropriate.

The current regime seems to produce individuals who are able to follow a flowchart but lack the courage to think for themselves - at least those seem to be the traits that lead to success in the world of work.

I guess if you work in a factory following a flowchart is a key skill - in other settings - not so much
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