Thursday, August 30, 2012

Down with school uniform

Suzanne Moore, writing in The Guardian, has condemned school uniform.

I commented:
Suzanne, thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this. 
At my [comprehensive] school, which I attended from 1980 to 1984, the "uniform" was that you had to wear a green jumper, white blouse, and grey or black skirt or trousers. Ties were not enforced (not even for the boys as far as I can recall) and if anyone had turned up in a blazer, we would have laughed uproariously.  Later, the uniform was changed to anything grey - a grey jumper instead of bottle green. Any shade of grey would do (oh dear, one can't use that phrase any more, eh?) We didn't go to a special shop to buy our uniform - there wasn't one. And no-one was persecuted for having naff clothes, despite the variations in style. The only time I can remember being ridiculed for what I wore was when we had a non-uniform day and I turned up in flares. 
Our school had the most Oxbridge candidates for the area - even more than the posh private schools. 
When I was a trainee teacher, the best uniform I saw (and the one most likely to survive the rigours of being worn by a child) was a choice of blue, red, or black sweatshirt - which could have the school's logo ironed on as a patch if you couldn't afford the official sweatshirt - with blue, red or white polo shirt, also with the school's logo; and black trousers or skirt. This uniform was comfortable, practical and hard-wearing.
Other schools in the area had blazers and all that nonsense, and these quickly looked absolutely knackered. The boys would wear their ties as short as possible in order to show defiance (and I don't blame them, but it looked silly) and the girls would get a skirt in year 7, when it was knee-length, and wear it till year 11, when it was merely a small pelmet about their assets. 
Researchers into school life have done various studies on uniform, all of which bear out the points made in this article. Uniform is conformist. It needs reform, not the imposition of more stupid blazers.
I then started looking at other comments on the article and realised there were people defending uniforms, so I posted another comment:
To all the other commenters who have defended school uniform: yes, adult clothing choices are sometimes constrained by circumstances - but you can still choose what colour suit, shirt, tie etc you wear. For the last decade, I have worked in an environment which did not require "smart" clothing. In the last few years of my old job, though, the managers started wearing suit trousers, smart shirts and ties. I thought this was silly. My current manager wears a T-shirt and jeans, and I respect him for his knowledge, not because he is wearing a stupid uniform.

For goodness' sake, this is The Guardian! If you like uniforms, go and comment onThe Telegraph or something.

1 comment:

Steve Hayes said...

I'm in two minds about it. On one level I hate the idea of school uniforms, but then I read about things like this: Izikhothane: a new word for an old fashion? | Khanya