The wrong trousers


I’ve written about uniform before; having gone to a school where there was a uniform until the last two years of school at which time we were allowed to wear mufti I think I can reasonably argue the case having experienced both sides.

In September, uniform hit the headlines in quite a big way (this was admittedly before the Brangelina divorce news). The head of Hartsdown Academy in Margate, Matthew Tate, found himself an unexpected media star due to his hard-line approach to uniform rules. He sent home 50 pupils on the first day of school (the police may have been called, or they were just cruising in the area, neither side seems to be able to agree) and 20 the day after, all because they were wearing the wrong uniform. Accusations of being a Nazi, and adopting a Gestapo attitude to uniform bandied around, which shows that the history syllabus should really be looked into as the Nazis murdered millions of Jews, Mr Tate wanted people to abide by the rules – spot the difference?

Parents have argued that it is not really for Mr Tate to be such as stickler for the rules, as not everyone has the money to buy replacement uniform. However, the evidence shows that the vast majority (900 in fact) of pupils in a cash-strapped area managed to turn up in the correct uniform, so the retaliating argument seems to be: buy the correct uniform in the first place even if your child feels it will jar with their ‘image’. Mr Tate also highlighted that in the past there have been complaints of bullying of children who have turned up wearing the correct uniform to school.

School uniform is not designed to be flattering, even when the octogenarian school tailor tries to make it so (parents complained we looked like we should work in Tesco’s when our school uniform had a makeover). Uniform is meant to level the playing field as much as it can; there will always be some children who wear top of the range Clarks, and others who wear scuffed Primark shoes. Choosing what to wear everyday can be a huge pressure for young minds trying to work out who exactly they are, and also can lead to a greater degree of peer pressure to wear expensive brands: a segregation of the haves and have-nots. To a degree, uniform also stops sexualisation of children (although skirts can always be rolled etc.), important in today’s social media-led society. Finally, uniform helps with discipline, truancy especially; anecdotally one head used to cycle around his catchment area at 0900 every morning to spot truants and take them to school.

What are your thoughts on school uniform today? Outdated, or important for creating a school identity? Let us know in the comment boxes below.


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