The window of many supermarkets have been displaying the obligatory “Back To School” chalkboard since the middle of July! Like we could forget! Kitting out the kids fills most parents with dread, particularly when it comes to shoes and trainers. By the 5th September each child will have trotted by an approving head teacher, head to foot in ill fitting maxi poly blend garments. So we ask this question, how important is school uniform and is it stylish?
Ironically, the parents now on bended knee ensuring children’s skirts meet the required length, were probably the same parents who rolled their’s over a few short years ago. The very function of uniform is intended to unite the school as a community, and it does, even if it is only to rebel against the idiotic blazer you were forced to wear in sweltering heat.
Fashion is fickle and seemingly this also applies to school uniform. Until recently, a more casual approach was being taken in school uniform. Perhaps we wanted to emulate the Chinese approach, where all children wear track suits to school! This was tried in the UK, but the Vicky Pollard effect soon thwarted the efforts.
The fashion trends are now turning full circle and many schools are returning to more traditional style uniforms. Often a new headteacher sweeps in and in a bid to raise the standards of a failing school she also upgrades the uniform. This affirms the perception that learning is improved by what we wear, an argument which is unlikely to be ever settled.
Another question concerns individuality and whether we are killing it? On one hand we are freeing our children with the rise of gender neutral clothing whilst on the other, we are forcing them into restrictive uniform because somehow we believe it is for their own good. And if rising standards are linked to better behaviour and a better learning environment, do we need to review what teachers wear? In a nation where jeans are now acceptable in the office..how long before we see then in the playground on the Headteacher…If kid’s are smartening up then so should the teachers! One rule for one and all that…