Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
School uniforms are an integral part of the British school experience. At the end of every August, your mum will pull out your shirts and jumpers to see if they still fit after being hidden in your wardrobe for nearly 2 months. Either they do and you’re good to go, or the sleeves are two inches too short and you’re doomed to spend your last day of summer following your parents around the shop, trying to find something that does account for your growth spurt over the summer.
Fundamentally, I believe there is no issue with the existence of school uniforms. If anything, the ease of knowing what to wear everyday and not having to worry about what standing out in comparison to what other kids are wearing is a benefit. However, the strict manner in which school uniform rules are enforced is something I do find issue with. Often times, schools have very strict rules concerning school uniforms and it sometimes appears as if they spend more time enforcing these than teaching. At many schools, the day begins with teachers sending pupils with the incorrect uniform to spend the day in isolation, or even worse pupils are sent home and told to come back when their uniform is correct. It’s hard to get over the ridiculousness of sending a child home because their uniform is incorrect. How exactly is a missing tie meant to impact a child’s ability to learn?
By being so strict with school uniform rules, schools ignore that for some pupils it may not always be possible to abide by these rules. In 2015, the Department for Education surveyed 1,183 parents about uniform costs and found that the average annual expenditure for one child was £213. For low-income families, this is an incredibly high cost to factor into a yearly budget. Families having to scrape by so they can afford to buy the specific PE kit a school has requested their pupils wear seems entirely unjust.
In justification of these strict rules, schools argue that such guidelines prepare pupils for the world of work. In most areas of employment, there are either strict dress codes or a uniform policy. Schools explain that by enforcing these strict guidelines now, pupils will be better prepared for them later. They argue that the consequences of not following these rules will be greater in the world of work. Of course, it is important to prepare pupils for what will be expected of them in later life. However, I think the very strict manner in which these rules are enforced is completely wrong. The main purpose of schools to learn and taking away a child’s opportunity to do this is wrong.
Uniform rules are linked with the idea of what is considered professional and smart when presenting yourself to someone. This idea is heavily outdated. I do not believe what someone wears and how they look will impact the quality of work. In the same sense, a child’s ability to learn is not impacted by whether they remembered their tie that morning or not.