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.

MrsOakenshield Tue 16-Jul-13 22:24:08

teacher - I understand perfectly, now, thank you! A very articulate post, and I can see the effect you are talking about. Sorry for being so obtuse.

However, I still think at primary, which was what topic this post is in, for me, I'd prefer no uniform! And I still can't articulate why (is saying that the children in Shirley Hughes' books never wear uniform at school a good enough reason? Probably not).

OhTiger Tue 16-Jul-13 22:41:53

I read on here, I think written by a headmistress, that uniform gives teenagers the opportunity to rebel against something completely harmless.

So for that reason I like it.

Although I do think it is a shame that most uniform involves grey, which is a dreadful color to put children in.

cory Wed 17-Jul-13 10:55:58

Agree that grey is a bit miserable and it never seems to go with the colours of the top. Ds' secondary has black trousers, with light blue shirt and navy pullover, no tie. The effect is very pleasing: neat and tidy and actually quite attractive. And- glory be!- it is cheap.

EarlyIntheMorning Wed 17-Jul-13 13:17:32

Well talking of grey uniform, I need to find grey trousers and long sleeved shirt in 100% cotton for 9 YO boy. I have found trousers in the skinkind range in M&S but no shirts anywhere sad

Early I used to work at a school with those shirts - from memory most came from the uniform shop or JL. You might get them from M&S online though. What size?

EarlyIntheMorning Wed 17-Jul-13 14:11:18

Hi Horry, I need size 9. Problem is, the ones from M&S and JL are 60% polyester.

If you can afford these, try Stevenson's: here

It's weirdly laid out but this shirt is as definitely 100% cotton as I can find (rang the shop to ask them to check the label) and from my personal experience of them they are easy to wash/iron and comfortable to wear. They're softer than normal shirts - more like old fashioned flannel - but if they must be 100% cotton...

Sorry, it's the "warm Dragon" shirt in the middle you're looking at. You need to register to be able to order and look at prices though.

Sorry again - click the boy's head on the Dragon line, then it's the middle "Dragon Warm" shirt you're looking at.

I am an idiot.

DonutForMyself Wed 17-Jul-13 15:02:11

MuddlingMackem glad its not just me who buys DD boys' shoes for school! Girls shoes are so impractical.

I admit for DS his uniform is quite restrictive. Polo shirt, school sweatshirt & trousers/shorts. My DD can choose a checked summer dress or top/skirt combo, or the school polo shirt with a grey skirt, trousers, shorts or culottes, she can wear a sweatshirt or cardigan. She almost has too many choices for school wear.

She 'expresses her individuality' by wearing inappropriately coloured socks, hair bands etc. and chooses her own clothes after school and at the weekend. Given what she often chooses I am glad that I don't have the battle of "you're not wearing THAT!" every morning before school.

Uniform is brilliant and I agree that it is a leveller, not just economically and socially, but also from a fashion POV, some kids will always find a way to stand out, but worrying about fashion has no place in primary school.

I prefer school uniforms, because paradoxically it can allow children to be more who they are.

DS2 is 9 and a little bit eccentric. At weekends he likes to wear shirts and bow ties, like the Doctor. He also wears a straw trilby. If he could get away with wearing this to school he would undoubtedly be bullied terribly by the football shirt wearing majority for "not fitting in". School uniform protects him from this.

StarBallBunny Fri 12-Jul-13 23:56:46

>>>> Sadly neither of my two would wear boys shoes. <<<<

Whilst we're paying ours doesn't have a say in it. When she's paying she can wear what she likes. grin

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Jul-13 19:23:38

I was non-uniform throughout school and would have been utterly horrified at the idea of wearing one. Didn't have any major problems with choosing clothes or teasing and they were both socially mixed schools, secondary in particular. I was not a fashionable sort of kid really either. Had quite idiosyncratic tastes- went through quite a long phase of refusing to wear anything that wasn't green in early teens, for instance. blush My children have all been uniform throughout so far (primary school main colour green, I'm happy to say!) and at primary level it's been ok as small children look pretty cute whatever they wear, I think, even hideous grey polyester.

But my sons really do look pretty awful in their secondary uniform, I have to say, especially a few weeks into term when the shirts start to grey and stains and holes appear. The uniform is very bog standard but sadly doesn't suit either of them and they look so much nicer at weekends. I think maybe gawky gangling spotty teenagers just look better in their own stuff. I also find it quite stressful making them get their uniform together, trying to whiten the said greying shirts, having to buy horrible but not cheap leather shoes they don't like at short notice because the old ones wear out etc etc etc. Having said all this, they seem pretty defiantly free thinking so if uniform is there to crush their individuality it has failed.

BirdyBedtime Sun 21-Jul-13 20:55:15

Quite surprised at the comments about uniform being cheaper. DDs school has uniform sweatshirt that's £12 whereas a cardi from Asda is £5. If you need 2or 3that‘s a significant difference if money is tight.

mrz Mon 22-Jul-13 08:56:41

Our school uniform is a blue jumper/sweatshirt/cardigan and a white polo shirt (girls can wear a blue & white dress in the summer if they wish) we don't stipulate where they are purchased ... so as cheap or as expensive as parents choose/can afford.

Schmedz Mon 22-Jul-13 12:05:19

Love uniform, even though it often is more expensive than just buying a set of clothing that can be worn every single day. Don't fancy and don't have time or energy for daily arguments with my ASD DD over why she shouldn't wear shorts and a Tshirt in the middle of winter.....
She accepts rules about uniform remarkably well and is proud of hers and the fact that it associates her with her school, which she loves.

Also glad for uniform as we can't afford the designer labels the majority of her classmates have (so lack of iPad, fancy mobile phone, expensive holidays are the only differences now wink). Uniform or not, actually children will always find differences between themselves... Like teacher says, uniform can help create a feeling of community but is certainly not the only contributor to that.

BabiesAreLikeBuses Mon 22-Jul-13 12:08:14

Op i am confused about you linking wearing uniform to repeating what they have been told and rote learning. Unless your children time travel daily to a Victorian school you won't find much of this!
I never wore a school uniform as the school said it restricted our freedom of thought... It was awful, i was one of the kids who couldn't afford designer labels and didn't have a great sense of which colours went together well and was picked on for it. Besides, there's a great sense of wanting to fit in as a teen - so we all wore jeans, doc marten boots (showing my age) and goth style hoodies. So that we were individual, just like everyone else hmm
Ds and dd wear a strict uniform. Am relieved dd only has to choose her hairstyle (ten mins a day) as i have to get her up early to choose clothes on non uniform days and she often wears 4 changes of clothes at the weekend. No prob with the weather either - ds has to wear shorts year round but doesn't notice the temperature or mind and i haven't had to rebuy either clothes or shoes since september.

hatsybatsy Mon 22-Jul-13 13:03:41

OP - are you sedning your kid to a steiner school by any chance? you seem very sure of yourself and your choices and I've heard that sort of thing from other Steiner parents.

My kids both wear uniform - an easy practical one. I'm all for it - I have a very fashion conscious 6 year old and getting her to wear something appropriate to school every day would be a nightmare.

Neither of my children are automatons - both question pretty much everything all the time. (don't all small children?)

cory Tue 23-Jul-13 18:16:28

Am I the only one wondering how easy it is going to be for the OP's dc to express their own individualism and freedom of thought in the face of such a very positive and self-assured mother?

What's the betting that falling in with the family views will count as being individualistic and free thinking and that choosing to agree with anybody outside, particularly somebody in authority, will be a sign of having turned into a sheep?

I had hints of this in my own family, though nothing as bad as this, just a very strong feeling of "our way is the right way". It has not done me much good in life. My teen dd laughs at me because I still find it so difficult to do anything that goes against the way "we" did things.

keepsmiling12345 Tue 23-Jul-13 19:08:06

Good point cory.

mathanxiety Tue 27-Aug-13 06:46:40

The DCs have gone to both uniform and non-uniform schools, quite homogenous primary (RC, and uniform) and huge, very diverse secondary (non uniform). We all preferred the non-uniform. It may be hard to imagine, but having no uniform means the focus on clothes and how people stand out from each other evaporates. Everyone looks different from everyone else. Nobody stands out as being more different or less different. Everyone moves on with their lives and gets over themselves and their appearance. As aaabbbccc said, no brand one-upping, even among young teens.

Children who would make a massive song and dance about getting out to school in civvies would soon learn to relax and just throw on whatever came to hand if they had to make the effort every single day. Either that or they would get organised about it and plan their outfits. Parents wouldn't buy things that weren't 'appropriate for school' either.

You can create a sense of everyone belonging without a uniform. It doesn't take a massive amount of time or effort. I think there is a tendency to see the uniform as short for 'We all belong' and for an administration to therefore sit back, surrounded by the sea of uniformed pupils, and believe that since everyone looks the same all is well in their little realm.

My niece goes to a private school with a complex and expensive uniform -- the school lacks any sense of community, communication between teachers, principal and parents is woeful (for instance, new parents are not told what constitutes a half day - you have to find out through the grapevine when you should pick your child up). This is a very prestigious school in Dublin where girls' names are put on a waiting list for admission the day they are born, or the day a scan indicates it's a girl. The DCs' school had both a uniform and a great sense of belonging, or community -- all down to elements of the school life outside of the uniform. Their secondary education in a school with no uniform was marked by a strong sense of community -- because it was such a huge and diverse school administrators put a lot of thought into community forming. If you rely on the uniform alone you are probably not going to succeed.

mathanxiety Tue 27-Aug-13 07:00:38

Of course if this is a Waldorf-Steiner uniform-free school the moulding of young minds to conform will be far more subtle and actually will go far deeper than anything in the sausage factory style schools the OP is jousting against. Ironic, if this is in fact the case.

Bonsoir Tue 27-Aug-13 07:22:43

I think that a school uniform is one small element of a school's disciplinary code. As such, some schools require a much tighter uniform than others.

I have no doubt that the schools that are the most intellectually and emotionally evolved have the least stringent uniform requirement.

DalekInAFestiveJumper Tue 27-Aug-13 07:50:37

I'm from the US. Uniforms are becoming more popular here, but the overwhelming majority of schools in the US are non-uniform. It does not seem to me that we are more 'free thinking' than the UK is.

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