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to ask: What's the point in school uniforms?

(451 Posts)
allrightluv Thu 31-Jan-13 08:41:50

They serve no purpose and promote conformity. Differences in income are expressed in other ways - shoes, bags, mobiles, in fact, even more so. Kids are judged by which school they go to (state/private). Thanks to the uniform you can tell by a mile off. Kids wear brands anyway - after school, at the weekends and in the holidays, so it's not any cheaper to wear a uniform to school. Consumerism is the most pronounced in the UK of all European countries.

Other countries like Sweden have no uniforms at school and few uniforms in work life, too, and rate much higher in terms of kids' happiness etc.

I'm not saying there's a causal link, but uniforms are not helping...

Haberdashery Mon 04-Feb-13 21:24:45

We're not actually an academy as new HT did manage to pull a decent Ofsted out of the bag. Apart from that, you have summed up my experience.

Haberdashery Mon 04-Feb-13 21:23:43

Poor Ofsted result? Introduce a new school uniform.
LEA on your back about standards? Become an academy with another new school uniform.
Parents getting arsey? Write them lots of letters about the new school uniform and all the lovely new rules you have introduced.

Yes, yes and yes. We lost our lovely non-uniform policy to a new head eager to CHANGE EVERYTHING NOW and prove how brilliant she was.

Eastpoint Mon 04-Feb-13 21:15:14

A local private boys' school is very relaxed about uniform so the boys don't stand out as private school pupils and are less likely to be mugged. I have no problem with this at all. They only have to wear their blazers for assembly occasionally. A local private girls' school has no uniform - why make your daughters wear a uniform - chances are they'll never have to wear one again.

And why do girls in primary schools have to wear ties? I haven't worn a tie since I was 11 and moved to senior school and the only women I can think of who wear ties are police women.

LineRunner Mon 04-Feb-13 21:07:50

You sum up ^^ sorry that didn't make sense

LineRunner Mon 04-Feb-13 21:06:40

Worried You sum of my experiences and my thoughts. Our DCs indeed may have the same HT.

Poor Ofsted result? Introduce a new school uniform.
LEA on your back about standards? Become an academy with another new school uniform.
Parents getting arsey? Write them lots of letters about the new school uniform and all the lovely new rules you have introduced.

NulliusInBlurba Mon 04-Feb-13 20:49:22

"I cant help but think that the HT has a fine eye for irrelevant detail but fails to grasp that his job is to lead an educational rather than sartorial organisation."

That says it all, really. I want my kids to be educated, not taught that wearing uncomfortable, impractical clothing is somehow necessary for the educational process.

I HATED uniform at secondary school - foul, sweat-inducing polyester skirts, compulsory below the knee socks, even at minus temperatures, stupid formal leather shoes, crinkly blouses. We all looked crap, and that was the school's intention. I have yet to see a kid wearing any sort of uniform who looks genuinely good - it veers between Waterloo road style trampiness (in both genders) and grammar-style beblazered geekiness. Both of them are idiotic and more suited to s+m fancy dress code, to be honest, than a sensible component of a mature educational policy.

Fortunately we're not in the UK, and my kids have grown up wearing their own clothes from the start. They started choosing their own clothes when they were around four and there are never discussions or arguments - they just pick a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, jumper. Warm, waterproofed fur-lined boots in winter, sandals in summer. The teenagers are far more appropriately, maturely dressed than the average British teenager because clothes are not an issue to rebel against.

The uniform thing is ultimately partly to do with parents' fantasies about what looks 'cute' (ultimately a further continuation of dressing up your dolly) and partly an immature way on the part of schools of trying to demean and de-power children/teenagers - it's a process of infantalisation. Thus you have these kids forced into uncomfortable uniforms so they look younger than their real age, but at the same time given free rein with electronic devices and TV to a degree that their immaturity can't cope with. No wonder they're among the unhappiest children in Europe.

WorriedTeenMum Mon 04-Feb-13 20:22:25

Wearing school uniform is now ingrained into British society. I can point out until I am blue in the face how hollow the arguments for uniform are, it doesnt matter. For all too many people (IMO) as Haberdashery wrote, uniform is taken as shorthand for all the things many parents want:

- discipline
- academic achievement
- conformity

Unfortunately in my experience it is a displacement activity for the HT. Having recently led the school into an unmitigated debacle, rather than usefully spending the time writing his resignation, the HT has written to parents congratulating them on sending their DCs to school in the correct uniform.

I cant help but think that the HT has a fine eye for irrelevant detail but fails to grasp that his job is to lead an educational rather than sartorial organisation.


trixymalixy Mon 04-Feb-13 18:26:30

Mathanxiety, quite honestly no, the clothes he sends her in are not appropriate a lot of the time. For example a tshort tunic intended to go with leggings , without the leggings and no tights or socks, in the middle of winter when she was in the middle of a course of antibiotics for a chest infection. I was actually very annoyed with nursery (as well as with DH) as they let her play outside like that when there were tights and leggings in her bag as spares.

To be fair the pj bottoms were mostly plain with a little flower on them, so probably only me that knew they were pjs.

mathanxiety Mon 04-Feb-13 02:22:45

Trixy -- Why does the appearance of a nursery age child matter? Are the clothes she wears appropriate for the activities she is engaged in and for the weather, and comfortable? If yes then what is the issue?

(Speaking as the parent of DDs who were encouraged to wear pajama pants under their school uniform pinafore or skirt on really cold days in the US snowbelt as most pajamas could be removed over shoes once the children were safely in school, whereas sweatpants usually couldn't be taken off without taking off shoes too, which slowed them down on the way to class in the morning.)

bruffin Sun 03-Feb-13 23:04:47

WhenI was at primary back in the 60s there was a uniform but it was only worn on special occasions.
One girl was teased because the dress she wore to school was actually a nightdress that was sold in tesco so we all knew where it was bought.

Haberdashery Sun 03-Feb-13 22:51:37

I don't honestly think pyjamas would be such a terrible thing to go to school in. They wouldn't be any less practical than most school uniform and would probably be considerably more comfortable.

Uniforms have caught on in primary schools because parents want strictness and academic rigour and wrongly identify a uniform as a marker for these things. When I was small and uniforms were less popular parents seemed mainly to be looking for schools that their children would like and enjoy. Society has (sadly) changed.

CecilyP Sun 03-Feb-13 22:36:49

I'd agree with that, WTM, though it doesn't explain why uniforms have caught on in primary school, having been virtually unknown when I was a girl. This has been an interesting thread, but of all the possible reasons for having a uniform, ensuring that hopeless DHs don't send their DDs to school in their pyjamas, was not one that would have occurred to me.

WorriedTeenMum Sun 03-Feb-13 19:06:10

Going back to the original question: What's the point in school uniforms?

- Private schools have distinctive uniforms to advertise their social status
- Grammar schools have uniforms to ape private schools
- Comprehensive schools have uniforms to ape grammar schools (lower aspirations)
- Academies have a new uniform because that is what it says in the 'becoming an academy' manual
- My DCs' school has a new uniform because the HT would rather spend time fussing about whether or not the students are wearing their ties than running the school properly (he is currently leading a properly dressed headlong charge to the bottom of the league table)

MuddlingMackem Sun 03-Feb-13 16:03:00

trixymalixy Sun 03-Feb-13 11:35:30

>>>> DH struggles to know what goes together so DD is dressed in random stuff when he gets it ready. I'll go to pick up DD and she'll be wearing pj bottoms hmm

Actually the nursery do have a uniform, maybe I should buy it.... <<<<

I used to struggle with clothes for nursery, so what I ended up with was basically two sets of clothes: nursery clothes and other clothes. So yeah, buying the nursery uniform when she next needs new clothes might be a good idea. grin

In the meantime, can you sort out some of her clothes into a separate drawer or crate so that they are her 'can wear to nursery clothes' and your DH only has to make choices from a limited selection? It might make it easier for him. I know my DH has always found it more difficult to put an outfit together for DD than for DS so it might be worth making it easier for him. smile

MuddlingMackem Sun 03-Feb-13 15:56:43

Haberdashery Sat 02-Feb-13 23:12:51

>>>>> DD is immensely skinny. All the skirts that might have fitted her round the waist from the usual places (but not the potentially sweatshoppy ones) were effectively mini-skirts. <<<<<

I intermittently have this problem with DD, depending on where she is in her growth cycles. grin I utilise two solutions. My preferred is this type of pinafore as DD is broader on the top and tapers down, so this is the only style which fits. It does look really nice though. My second solution is a pair of braces with a skirt, which she is happy with if she doesn't have a clean pinafore. grin

Personally, I'd agree that sticking her in a pair of trousers with an adjustable waist is the easiest option, but my DD usually prefers skirts and dresses to trousers. hmm

trixymalixy Sun 03-Feb-13 11:35:30

It's so much easier for us getting the school uniform ready for the week than it is getting DD's clothes ready for nursery. DH struggles to know what goes together so DD is dressed in random stuff when he gets it ready. I'll go to pick up DD and she'll be wearing pj bottoms hmm

Actually the nursery do have a uniform, maybe I should buy it....

cory Sun 03-Feb-13 11:10:08

Coming from Sweden, I was very hmm about uniforms. After 11 years of having children at school, I have come round for the simple selfish reason that they are CHEAP. Assuming that we are talking the basic shirt, trousers, sweater kit, rather than expensive blazers and ties.

And they are mostly uni-sex, so can be handed down and ds does not get teased for wearing his sister's cast-offs- as he certainly would under any other circumstances.

Being nasty cheap polyester they last forever, where T-shirts and jeans wear out in no time. And you can easily find them in the charity shops.

Every time I have money over to pay for dd's drama club or take ds to a football match, I bless this system. My SIL in Sweden is spending an awful lot more on kitting out her ds of a similar age. My parents were not well off but very keen on having money left over for cultural activities, so I used to sneak off to school with torn jeans and tatty T-shirts so as not to let them down. My dc don't have to do this because the uniform system ensures that it is easy to find cheap, new or nearly new clothes in the supermarket and charity shop.

Saski Sun 03-Feb-13 10:05:44

I hate my kids' uniforms (they are DRY when they come out of the WASHING MACHINE. I started secretly substituting M&S trousers for school trousers and they're infinitely better, which shows you how bad the uniforms are).
But, I'm grateful for the system just the same. I went to school in the US and as a parent, I would not want my child obsessing over clothes as much as I did when I was in high school.
I find it strange that anyone would think that shoes and bags are even a suitable comparison for the full-on runway that results from no uniform. In any case, don't most schools have uniform school bags? My kids do.

WorriedTeenMum Sun 03-Feb-13 09:48:59

We had several years of non-uniform primary. Exactly as Haberdashery described - no fuss. Of course the children had favourite t-shirts to wear but understood the concept of laundry.

Once they got to secondary I dont tell them what to wear outside of school so why would I worry inside school? Except that they have to wear the stupid black polyester uniform. So the uniform is the problem.

The ridiculous obsession schools have with insisting on inappropriate shoes!

My DCs walk to school. The office type shoes are designed for just that - walking to and from the photocopier. They are not designed for walking miles each day.

DS recently tried wearing cadet shoes but found that these lack grip in wet or snowy weather. He now wears his Army boots. I have no problem with this and will tell the school so if challenged.

CheerfulYank Sun 03-Feb-13 09:29:10

We don't have uniforms in the US for the most part, and I wish we did!

TomArchersSausage Sun 03-Feb-13 09:08:35

I like school uniform. it simplifies life for everyone and gives a sense of belonging to a school.

I do think the school have duty to ensure it's reasonably priced and easily sourced though (which ours do, so I'm happy)

BoffinMum Sun 03-Feb-13 09:00:02

I hate uniforms,but if schools insist in having them, I think they should have good quality ones and not synthetic rubbish, washed out sweatshirts and so on.

Morloth Sat 02-Feb-13 23:27:17

90% of the girls at DS1's school wear the same uniform as the boys.

Blue cotton stubbies in summer, tracky pants in winter. White polo shirt with school emblem in blue. Zip up jacket in the tracksuit material for winter and a legionnaire style hat in the blue - all purchased from the uniform shop (online and delivered!).

They do have the option of a dress as well, but hardly any of them wear them. The high school girls do mostly wear a black skirt rather than the shorts, but even then it isn't unusual for the girls to be in shorts/trousers.

When ordering the uniform the only 'girls' bit is for the dresses, all the rest is unisex.

They also have a school bag which once again the vast majority use.

I like it.

wannabedreams Sat 02-Feb-13 23:18:10

I love school uniform and when I started my current post as a store supervisor I was told to wear 'smart workwear' rather than a uniform, yet within a month or two I requested uniform as my clothes were getting ruined and after five years I am much happier in uniform at work (although I have the option of not wearing one).

Haberdashery Sat 02-Feb-13 23:12:51

I only had a year of non-uniform as a parent (seven glorious years as a child). But so far (one year of non-uniform and a term and a bit of uniform), uniform has been unequivocally a PAIN IN THE ARSE. It is bloody annoying having to think on a Sunday night (when I would rather be relaxing with a glass of wine and some crisps), 'is a white top clean, is a pinafore/skirt/pair of trousers clean, has she got socks of the appropriate colour clean' etc etc etc. If she had no uniform, I could guarantee that there would be at least one set of clean, dry, weather-appropriate clothes available. Because it wouldn't matter which one. DD is a clean and tidy child but she still gets yoghurt in her lap because she is six. I've given up on the socks. I genuinely couldn't give a stuff. If anyone thinks her experience of education will be the poorer for not having the right socks, they are insane.

Also, DD has had precisely ONE mufti day so far. She has asked me FIVE TIMES A WEEK every week since then when the next one is, and is already planning her outfit. When she just wore ordinary clothes to school, there was no fuss at all. She was quite frankly completely unconcerned apart from wondering if she would be warm enough.

Also, sizing. If you have a standard sized child and zero concern for sweatshops, I suppose you just go to the supermarket and buy whatever. DD is immensely skinny. All the skirts that might have fitted her round the waist from the usual places (but not the potentially sweatshoppy ones) were effectively mini-skirts. I don't consider mini-skirts warm enough for a painfully skinny kid in the winter, really. And she's SIX. Finally found cord trousers with a pull-in waist that isn't ludicrously bunched up for £££. But they're not really uniform. However, they're warmer and more comfortable than school uniform trousers.

I object to spending money on ugly and badly made clothes, even if it is not much money. Pretty badly made clothes would at least have fun/aesthetics on their side. School uniform is ugly, cheap, badly cut, badly fitting, not fit for purpose, just plain horrible.

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