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Are school uniforms a good idea?

James is a Primary Teacher working through Protocol Education Nottingham.

So the new school year has begun and students across the country are pulling on their school clothes once again. New shirts, ties, skirts, trousers and shoes have been purchased and everything fits! Sure, later on in the year clothes will go missing, be outgrown or get grass stains on them from lunchtime football practice - but for now everyone looks smart.

But are school uniforms always a good thing? Can a school uniform really make a significant difference to the learning environment? Let us examine....

School uniforms have several key purposes. They ensure that all students look smart, upholding the ‘image’ of the school, creating a sense of belonging and showing that students are ready to learn. They also help to make sure that children who come from families that struggle financially do not get bullied or teased for not wearing the latest designer brands. By wearing a uniform that has been decided upon by the school the students know exactly what items are appropriate. Wearing a uniform eliminates the need for subjective decisions on whether a certain clothing item is smart or appropriate enough for school. There are even studies that suggest that by wearing a uniform behaviour, concentration and learning is improved. Security and safety is also easier to maintain as non-students cannot easily get inside school premises.

On the other hand, schools that do not enforce a strict uniform policy have some good counter arguments.

Firstly, some school uniforms can ultimately cost more than wearing clothes of your choice. Shirts, blazers, shoes etc (as well as replacements for when washing is required) all add up. An outfit consisting of jeans, polo and shoes is likely to cost much less than one consisting of shirt, tie, blazer, trousers and shoes.

Secondly, many schools argue that children in their own clothes feel more relaxed for learning and can express their individuality. There is also the fact that students will always find a way to try and make the uniform ‘cooler’, like shortening ties or rolling up sleeves. Students will also continue to make judgements based on weight, height, hairstyle and suchlike, even if their uniforms are all the same. On rare occasions uniforms have even intensified rivalries between schools, leaving students vulnerable if wearing their uniform near another schools ‘turf’.

What are your opinions on school uniform? There are certainly arguments for and against school uniform, although in England the majority of schools have some sort of uniform. I agree that a smart uniform definitely improves the image of a school but am undecided on whether it can actually improve learning significantly. Ultimately, it is the decision of the school whether to implement a uniform or not but it is certainly an interesting area for debate.

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Tags: James, Uniform, Primary, Teach in Nottingham, Protocol Education

Category: Australian Teachers

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