Ask any school child what the pros of a school uniform are and they’ll likely greet you with blank stares. If you think back to when you were a child you’ll remember that most of us hated wearing a school uniform. However while it might not be entirely popular among the children, it can nevertheless have many positive benefits and if you think back to your time in school objectively now, then you can probably appreciate that fact.
For parents, teachers or governors trying to decide on their viewpoint of school uniforms it can be hard to think of it objectively and to think of all the different strengths and weaknesses they poise. Read on then and learn some of the plus and minus points about the controversial school uniform.
Pros of School Uniforms
It helps you to find children: If a school is on a trip, or if a child runs away, a school uniform can help teachers to quickly identify children from their school and so prevent them from getting lost. This is a very useful ability for teachers and if it means fewer children going missing it’s of course a good thing.
It prevents competition and teasing: When children wear their own clothes into school, this then becomes a time for them to judge each other. Some children will be more mature than others, some will have better dress sense, and some will have more money at their disposal. What you don’t want is some children turning up in fashionable new clothes and bullying the ones in their hand-me-downs who will inevitably feel embarrassed as a result. With a school uniform everyone is the same, thus no one can argue this point. Likewise wearing home clothes can show affiliation – to sports teams, to TV series, or to bands – and this can then cause arguments between the ‘rival’ teams.
It can enforce a positive attitude: In a work place we dress smartly even though there’s normally no uniform in office jobs, and even the self employed are advised to dress as though they were going into an office. The reason for this is that it can make you feel professional, and that that in turn can make you produce a better quality of work. The same is true of school children and if they are in shirts they will feel more like little workers and less like football fans.
It can teach discipline: Though many jobs do not require a uniform, others do. If you children are going to grow up to become nurses or checkout assistants then they may as well get used now to putting on the same uniform day in and out.
It shows their age: At the end of the day you want people to know that your children are children. This prevents people from chatting them up or serving them alcohol. By putting them in school uniforms the older looking children then can’t pretend to be older than they are.
It can be used as an excuse: If a child is misbehaving and needs to be put in line, it can sometimes be difficult for a teacher to find a reason. By telling them off for having their shirt un-tucked though you have a legitimate reason. This is often why there are dress codes in clubs (though some parents would undoubtedly argue this was a bad reason to wear a uniform).
Cons of School Uniforms
They’re expensive for parents: Those parents who would have sent their children to school in old hand-me-downs and knitted jumpers may not be as relieved about the uniform as you may think, as it will mean they have to fork out for expensive school uniforms time and again in order to pay for their children’s education. They will also need several versions of the same outfit as their children will have to wear them five days a week. This is on top of the clothes they already had to wear. They may well end up still wearing hand-me-downs from older siblings, or faded clothes from the charity shop too.
They can give the school a bad name: If the children of a school are out causing trouble wearing the uniform from a school, it can reflect badly on that school and result in fewer parents wanting to send their children there.
It can cause controversy: Someone has to design the uniform and someone has to choose what it consists of. Rules like ‘girls wear skirts’ can be perceived as pervy or sexist, while girls not being allowed to wear skirts can upset a lot of the girls. Likewise ties will be seen as a point of controversy (again is there gender equality here?) and every time there’ a redesign parents and pupils alike will likely be angry. By letting children wear their own clothes you can avoid all of the politics involved here.
They can stifle individuality: Some people say that school uniforms are good for creating a sense of authority and discipline in children, whereas other parents would argue this is undesirable and they would rather their children were more creative and more liberal. At the same time they might feel that it takes away a way for children to express themselves and be more creative. It could be seen as stifling their creativity and independence to get them more willing to work for the ‘man’ in later life. Whether or not this is a good thing is entirely a matter of perspective.
Children don’t like them: At the end of the day children would all love to wear their own uniforms. It would make children want to come to that school and it would make them a lot more likely to tow the line in other ways. Other schools would think that the children from yours were the ‘cool’ ones and it would generally be a great gift to the children. They’re the ones who have to wear the things day in day out… so this has got to be worth something.
They look bad: School uniforms by and large are ugly to look at and usually involve black and yellow stripes, mucus green jumpers and uncomfortable materials. It’s no wonder the children don’t like wearing them… And this fact can make them teased by other children.
So there is no easy answer about whether children should or shouldn’t wear uniforms and really it comes down to your own philosophies. At the end of the day though it’s possible to make school uniforms a lot more pleasant than they are currently and there’s no reason for them to be quite so bad to look at. Meanwhile it’s also possible to find a compromise – such as making children wear a certain hat, or wear a tie and shirt but letting them choose them. Even just saying they have to wear a red jumper. If you are in charge of uniforms at your school then, maybe try thinking outside the box and ending the age old debate? Perhaps if you are little creative then you can satisfy both camps to at least some degree.