School Uniforms Are They Important?

(138 Posts)
KarenIsabella Fri 12-Jul-13 12:16:59

My child is just about to start nursery in at an independent school where children are not required to wear a school uniform and I just want to air my thoughts about this topic after various discussions with friends and collegues.

For me it is important that children be free from the constraints and ideas imposed by others and nurtured to develop their own ideas and ideals. I am all for children looking nice and smart but what is the real purpose of the school uniform? Really it’s the removal of a person’s individuality and free thinking.

This can be seen in the military where individualism and willfulness is seen as a negative thing! In these organisations uniforms are given a very high importance and any deviation from the prescribed uniform is a serious issue.

Individuals are not welcome in the military, perhaps they are scared that if military people realised that war was not a good idea they would abandon the organisation!

So all in all uniforms are really a form of control, is that what we want our children? Preparing them from an early age to have no personality, no freedom of thought or individualism is not for me.

At primary school most children aren't really choosing their clothes anyway - they are choosing from among clothes their parents have bought or okayed and put in the drawer/cupboard. This is particularly true at 3+ for nursery.

I am neither pro nor con uniform at primary level, as I can see the benefits of both. I think it only becomes a control v individuality issue later on.

chickensaladagain Fri 12-Jul-13 12:33:36

Uniform has many purposes

Removes opportunity for bullying due to wrong brand/style etc
Makes the dcs identifiable when out and about with school
Is cheap so stops own clothes being ruined by paint, grass stains etc
Creates a sense of community

You can be an individual within a school while recognising that some things are for the greater good
Both by dds question, use imagination and challenge, but they both wear uniform

Farewelltoarms Fri 12-Jul-13 12:36:31

If you think a uniform will mean they have no personality, then you've very little faith in the robustness of their character.

I marginally prefer a uniform, because my children go to a very economically and ethnically mixed school and so it promotes a sense of community within them.

But I don't feel strongly either way. Unless people start suggesting that my children have no freedom of thought because they wear some emblemmed polyester...

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 12-Jul-13 13:15:49

Uniform is a great leveller it hides the differences in wealth between families ( these can be huge even at private schools) and prevents bullying. Interestingly I had a French au pair who on discovering DD wore uniform voiced that she wished she'd had uniform at school as she had worried everyday about choosing her outfit.
At weekends DD get to celebrate her individuality by choosing her own clothes.

Periwinkle007 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:32:11

I personally think that yes they are important. and to be honest if there wasn't one at our school then I would create one for my kids in the sense that I would want them to have designated school clothes so they don't wreck their nice clothes. they wore a pinafore to preschool, not because they had to but because they were thick material and protected their tops. Their nice clothes were then worn at home and so not wrecked with paint or whatever.
I think it means children have one less thing to worry about. My daugher can choose what style to wear her hair in (within reason) what colour pants to wear, what to change into when she gets home from school. She is still very definitely an individual she just looks smart at school and she likes her uniform.

Euphemia Fri 12-Jul-13 13:44:14

For me it is important that children be free from the constraints and ideas imposed by others and nurtured to develop their own ideas and ideals.

All very noble and desirable, but there is a fair amount of schooling that requires children to do what is asked of them, to conform to the school's ideas of right and wrong, the school's aspirations and ideals.

keepsmiling12345 Fri 12-Jul-13 13:52:14

OP, glad you are happy with your decision to send your DC to a school which doesn't have uniform. To be honest, having a uniform (or not) was not a factor for me when choosing a school for my DD. Now we are 2 years into her schooling, at a school which does have a uniform, I would observe that all the children are perfectly capable of developing and demonstrating their own ideas, personalities, free thinking, etc etc, regardless of what they happen to be wearing!

noramum Fri 12-Jul-13 14:05:51

I am from Germany so uniform was alien to me whe DD started Reception. Two years later I can see advantages. And I can also confirm that in her class there are 30 individuals and not a mass of not thinking conformed idiots.

Uniform is not restricted to military. Lots of shops have a dress code, restaurants and hotels, leisure centre, reception and security of large companies. Do to forget NHS and police. Do you suggest every organisation where people have to "obey" a dres code are threatening the individualism of their employees?

Military is different because soldiers need to function as a group not as individuals. But I came from a military family and I have friends in the military and, believe me, all these people are as I individual as I am. There is a life outside the job as there is a life outside the classroom.

Would it be terrible of me to just snigger?

I don't mind much either way about uniform tbh, most schools that have it do so because the parents want it, not because the school authorities believe they are in the business of stamping out all personality from the children that come through their doors.

And schools that don't have uniform can have just as many rules and regulations which "constrain" the little darlings into a set of acceptable behaviours.

Some countries have an issue with children in unifrom - in France and Germany it is just socially unacceptable to consider it because of the memories of Hitler Youth it brings up. In the UK it is usually a sign of "middle-class" or "aspirational" schools to have a strong policy on uniforms.

At my DSs primary school, a litle girl arrived from France - her mum bought her a skirt, trousers, and pinafore, an assortment of white tops, and a choice of jumper, cardigan and sweatshirt. This met the girl's wish to pick her own outfit every day, while meeting the uniform requirements. I don' think she felt particularly constrained by having the junior equivalent of many womens 'capsule wardrobe'

KarenIsabella Fri 12-Jul-13 14:57:43

Ok yes true in some families, most of the people in my circle of friends allow their children to choose and most do choose from about the age of 3.

noblegiraffe Fri 12-Jul-13 15:05:01

My DS starts school in September, we went to his school today to pick up his new uniform. Children were out in the playground playing, and the teachers looked over at DS, outside the playground. It was immediately obvious to them without needing to recognise him that he wasn't 'one of theirs'.

KarenIsabella Fri 12-Jul-13 15:31:10

Chickensalad : Mmm I didn't think school uniforms were very cheap at all! Definitely not for independent schools I have seen anyway!

farewelltoarms : Young children are easily influenced what you might see as a polyester with an emblem on it might be very different to a child. Ask them today what they feel about their uniforms you might be surprised by their answers.

lonecatwithkitten : you say it hides differences in wealth? Really?! Initially perhaps and then they start noticing the area they live in, car parents drive holidays, birthday presents, Christmas presents etc

Euphemia :the school should not decide what is right for our children that is why it's so important to choose a school that is aligned with your idea of right and wrong. I personally don't think it's a crime not to wear a tie and I won't choose a school that thinks so.

noramum : yes that's exactly what I'm suggesting, they need you to conform to their ideals. Handy if you've already been trained early on at school. If soldiers have to function as a group do they have a say in the wars they fight?

amuminscotland : yes that is why children should be educated with real education not just being told what to do and think and to learn to repeat and do what is said to them.

"Education" has originated from another Latin term "Educere" which means "to lead forth" or "to come out". All these meanings indicate that education seeks to nourish the good qualities in man and draw out the best in every individual"

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 12-Jul-13 16:15:15

At DD's school it seems to hide the differences at least till the end of year 6.

quip Fri 12-Jul-13 16:36:21

I have to say that the only kids I know whose parents follow the "free of constraints" model of parenting are right bloody handfuls. Frankly I'm thankful that the OP isn't going to subject my kids' school to the products of her parenting philosophy.

PatriciaHolm Fri 12-Jul-13 16:47:57

I think you are going to struggle with school full stop, OP! There are many good reasons for uniform, which have been mentioned here. Schools have a lot of rules and regulations; in a good school, that doesn't stop the kids developing their own thoughts, beliefs and personalities, but if you are going to rail against them at all opportunities you are going to have a hard time over the next few years.

McFluffy Fri 12-Jul-13 16:53:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Owllady Fri 12-Jul-13 16:54:04

I think a school uniform when going to a normal state school in a mixed area is a good leveler for children.

Very different from a steiner school

piprabbit Fri 12-Jul-13 16:54:51

I would guess that, in the absence of a formal uniform, most children will end up wearing an psuedo-uniform where they all end up looking pretty similar to each other anyway.
The only differences will be whether Little Grace's leggings come from DKNY, Boden, Next or F&F.

Justfornowitwilldo Fri 12-Jul-13 16:54:53

'Would it be terrible of me to just snigger?'

Not if I can join you grin

MrsOakenshield Fri 12-Jul-13 16:58:37

I don't feel that strongly about it, but the state primary we had our eye on for DD (until the catchment shrunk grrrr) didn't have uniform which was an appeal, though not the main one, and I can't really articulate why. This school does very well, and is pretty diverse in many ways. I'm beginning not to see the point of uniform, to be honest (and some are so ugly! Mint green sweatshirts, yeuch). I think I'm right in thinking that the top achieving girls's school in the country (St Paul's) doesn't have uniform? <actually, not sure why that's relevant>

rufusnine Fri 12-Jul-13 17:10:58

I think it makes it easier for parents to have a set uniform - no meltdowns on a morning choosing which outfit to wear, best clothes kept for after school and week ends and not covered in paint etc. Our school has 'set' colours for each garment and does order in some garments with the school logo - which is more expensive - however parents are free to choose Tesco, Asda, M & S or any other school uniform as long as its in the correct colours. Most of our parents choose to mix and match - buying some with logo from school and some from the aforesaid shops. So I am all for a relaxed uniform but personally don't like the compulsory school tie and blazer type of uniform which I was forced to wear along with a stupid beret

Dackyduddles Fri 12-Jul-13 17:14:00

Odfod.

Don't like em don't go to school using em.

Simples

NoComet Fri 12-Jul-13 17:21:47

In hot weather like this when they'd all like to be sandals, shorts and a tea shirt, they are a sodding nuisance.

In midwinter when they'd like jeans not stupid let the wind through polyester trousers, they are a sodding nuisance.

Girls school shoes are stupid. The'd be far better in trainers most of the year.

The purpose of school uniforms, they look nice in class photos.

KarenIsabella Fri 12-Jul-13 17:23:46

Just for the record I have no problem with rules and regulations what I will not support is the control and removal of free thought in society beginning with young children especially at the so-called top private schools were young minds are conditioned to obey and repeat.

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