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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.

vociferous Fri 27-Dec-13 07:51:15

My Oldest DS now 25 had a nice maroon round neck sweatshirt with school logo on and white polo shirt at his village primary school. He then had a Royal blue round neck sweatshirt with school logo on and white polo shirt with school logo on. (Will leave you all to guess what South Cambridgeshire village we live in!) My youngest DS just started at the same secondary school and loves wearing a sweatshirt and polo shirt. He finds it more relaxing to wear and seems to feel more comfortable wearing it. I'd hate for him to have to wear the whole blazer, shirt and tie caboodle that I had to wear some years ago. I think it also looks much better than the more formal shirt and tie uniform!

Ingrid1964 Thu 26-Dec-13 01:44:40

Dead simple............all character flows from self discipline: the independent learner, a work ethic, personal integrity.....You cannot develop self discipline in an ill disciplined environment. The seemingly small matters, including school uniform. It is part of the creation of a disciplined environment, within which we can create independent character.

luckystarshine Tue 19-Nov-13 20:38:53

completley agree, cloudskitchen.

cloudskitchen Tue 19-Nov-13 09:33:57

Uniforms are important. Whatever school you go to. There are always going to be people from all walks of life. Even in independent schools. There are always going to be kids that come from more affluent families that can afford designer this that and the other and those that can barely afford the basics. I don't want my kids feeling superior to other children because of what they wear and vice versa. I also hate to think of children from poorer families being teased or bullied because they don't "fit it" uniform removes all of this.

cory Tue 19-Nov-13 08:40:49

Do zombies wear uniform? I suppose they do look rather like another...

luckystarshine Mon 18-Nov-13 10:36:37

Also, when there is a non-uniform day, disco etc, i find that most of the children discuss what they will be wearing and many turn up dressed the same as they copy each other which takes away their individuality anyway with peer pressure.

luckystarshine Mon 18-Nov-13 10:25:32

I personally prefer my children wearing a school uniform as it saves me some valued time in the morning without the arguments of "i dont want to wear this today", "Can i wear this instead"- "But my friends all wear these ones" etc!
Uniforms look smart and are very practical and you do not have to worry about the children ruining them as much as their best clothes.
It also gives the childrem less time to worry about what they wear and more time to concentrate on their studies. I have enough arguments about what pencil case, lunch box, umbrellas the other children have and how "theirs are better"more expensive etc! also which parents are wealthier, own a boat, horses and so on..
School uniforms are Great! and gives parents and children one less thing to worry about.
As for individuality i think children discover this through art, creative play and forming friendships and they have plenty of time to choose their clothes after school and at the weekends.

Doubletroublemummy2 Thu 10-Oct-13 09:33:36

All I can say is that you show very little understanding of what goes on in an average primary school. Your options, either educate yourself better so your statements/choices are better informed. Or continue with your judgmental ignorance, but accept when people slam you down for it. Silly girl.

Nicky898 Sat 07-Sep-13 13:37:34

Have no idea what you are referring to by "conditioned to obey" my 15 year old is at Rugby, and she would treat this comment with derision! As for the uniform, you may know that girls wear a box pleat skirt which touches the ground, and a sports jacket and bouse/shirt in a pastel colour. I initially thought such would be a problem to overcome but was very quickly educated out of that notion. The girls are fiercely supportive of the uniform, and whereas most girls wearing school skirts roll them up at the waist band (for obvious reasons) Rugbians tend to focus in making the skirt sweep the ground. I really think the OP is speaking from an idealogical standpoint (no harm in that) but unsupported by any real experience. Both my daughters wore their uniforms with pride and there is no way they were ever expected to conform to mindless rules. A full set of uniform, including sports kit, can easily top £700, but the school is keen to reduce the cost wherever possible and stocks uniform and allows resale of outgrown items. My daughter gave away her place at grammar school to go to indy and has never looked back. She is far more wise and knowledgable than I was at her age, and mixes very comfortably with a wide range of boys and girls from diverse backgrounds; some wealthy and some who are "hard up" - I count myself in the latter!

nooka Tue 27-Aug-13 19:00:05

Both dh and I went the other way really though. I am inclined to total scruffiness whilst dh has a serious authority problem (has been a real issue at work) acquired from stupid fights about the length of his hair etc.

nooka Tue 27-Aug-13 18:57:26

I agree girls are generally more policed than boys. Even at my children's non uniform school with a code much as you describe dd gets more grief than ds ever did, and she is generally much more suitably dressed than he has even been.

She got most peeved on a recent school trip that the girls were not allowed to wear bikinis/tankinis to swim, or only with a (non white) t-shirt, whilst the boys had no swimsuit guidance and all were (obviously) top less.

My big sister had the pleasure of a bright pink school uniform (with red and white stripy tie too!). However I can't say that the pin stripes and wing collar uniform didn't influence my choice of where to go for sixth form blush

mathanxiety Tue 27-Aug-13 18:48:42

Bonsoir, that is an interesting comment. From what I have seen in the US, uniforms including tie and blazer and smart khaki pants tend to crop up in all-boy schools set up to be non-failing alternatives to state schools. They are also used in areas where gang activity makes the clothes and headgear you wear a significant choice. Also in elementary schools where academic achievement has been poor and discipline a challenge.

The more middle class and motivated a student body and the safer the neighbourhood the more you are likely to find the schools have no uniform and maybe a very basic code (no nudity, no see-through clothes, no swimsuits, no head covering in school, no body parts from collarbone to start of legs displayed through cutouts, no flip flops, no offensive slogans or symbols displayed on clothing - offensive under categories such as racism, sexism, ethnic or religious intolerance).

Nooka -- my mum sent us to the school she chose (having given up on the local National School that had no uniform due to massive overcrowding) based on the uniform, which she thought very distinguished. Looking back, a red v-neck sweater and red tie might not have been the best choice for a primary school in Ireland, where so many children have red hair and pink/freckled faces. The uniform continued to secondary but the tie was dropped. Ties in primary had to be tied, no elastic allowed. I learned this life skill (so important to women the world over) at age 5.

What I really needed was lessons in how to apply makeup but makeup was completely verboten, as were high heels, and funny enough those two elements featured prominently in my list of things that caused me angst as a young woman in the world of work. My uniform and the regulations on appearance prepared me for life as a nun. Worse, being forced to accept the constant comments on appearance from teachers, nuns, etc., went a long way towards conditioning me as a girl to accept that other people had a right to comment, judge, remark upon and correct your appearance. It's quite a boundary infraction.

I noticed even in the DCs' primary school (a school with good points too numerous to list) that when it came to field trips to a play or an opera when the DCs were supposed to wear their own choice of clothes, the policing of what the girls wore was far more in evidence than policing of what the boys wore. One teacher in particular was downright neurotic about clothing and notorious for calling mothers on field trip days (never fathers) and insisting they bring something 'more appropriate' for their DD. She sent out a list of banned clothing styles and footwear, with a drawing of what was considered acceptable. It was laughable. The kind of outfit she wanted girls to wear was basically the uniform, but in different colours. Most mothers told her where to get off, that they were at work just as she was.

nooka Tue 27-Aug-13 08:04:01

I hated having to wear uniform at secondary school (although I disliked my mum not buying me uniform at primary too). The uniform was badly made, ugly and uncomfortable and has left me pretty much hating blue. I also think uniform creates totally unnecessary problems between enforcing teachers and pupils. It's just a part of what makes being a child feel very unfair at times. Funny how with younger children people talk about 'picking your battles' and yet for teenagers schools choose to create completely artificial ones. Bizarre really.

My children go to a non uniform school now and I've just been out to buy them their post summer clothes. I bought new jeans and nerdy t-shirts/hoodies for dd and a pair of purple trainers. ds has bought some very interesting cyan and purple trainers and bright tops (last year he was fully in sludge). I like that they both feel they can express themselves and no one will bat an eyelid (or no one that they care about anyway).

Stuffing nursery age children into shirt and tie type uniforms has always seemed particularly sad to me, I think it's more about school branding than anything else when it comes to four year olds.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Good point cory.

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.

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?)

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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