Friday, 16 June 2017

School uniforms

have been in the news here. One secondary school has been dealing with a "uniform revolt". Other school principals say they don't want them.
We always wore a school uniform of one sort or another. My first "uniform" was a box pleated tunic made from a spare length of brown serge. It was horrible. I hated it. I hated it because school uniform was not compulsory in that particular school and every other female child had a grey box pleated tunic. No, uniform was not compulsory but children wore it anyway. 
My brother went through the primary school in grey shorts. My sisters did not have to put up with the indignity of the brown box pleated tunic. They had the regulation grey box pleated tunics.
That was the winter tunic of course. In summer we girls wore shirt waist dresses. Boys went from grey flannel to grey drill shorts and then, in the secondary school. long trousers. 
My siblings and I went on through navy, bottle green, maroon, navy again, grey, and brown variations. We haven't kept any of them. My brother and I haven't even kept our prefect pockets and badges - our mother threw those out when we moved on. She wasn't sentimental. Uniform was just that, uniform. It made for equality and prefects were just equal to everyone else.
Most state schools had the same thing with variations only in blazers, pullovers, and ties. The fee paying schools had further variations on the theme of box pleated tunics and one school we all envied had Black Watch tartan kilts. They still have Black Watch tartan.
To my American friends these uniforms seem alien. And yes, they are a left over from another era in many ways. Clothes are also much more expensive here so uniforms make even more sense.
But there are other things to be said for uniforms too. It means there are no arguments about what is to be worn each day. It means there is no competition about clothing. As Ms W has put it, "When you put on your uniform you put on your work for the day."
I remember my mother going to a new school where there was no uniform. The previous head of the school had not been particularly interested - in not just the issue of uniform but many other things. The parents actually asked if they could have a uniform. They came up with something simple and practical and almost every child in the school wore it because it was also cheap. Almost every school in the state now has something similar for junior primary and primary school children. It isn't compulsory in state schools but most children wear it. Parents prefer it. For the most part so do the children.
There are arguments for and against uniforms for older students but the "for" might be said to outweigh the "against". If I had the responsibility for a school I would be pro-uniform. I would try to make it practical and easy to care for but I'd want to provide students with that certainty and sense of belonging that can come with a uniform.  
I would also want to see the thrill on the faces of the youngest students donning their uniforms for the first time and showing them off. It's the tangible start of the big adventure that is school even if it just a t-shirt with the school logo.
Isn't that all worth something?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Isn't that all worth something?"

Yes it is worth something! It is also nice to be a part of the school community.