10.9.15

School Uniform Rules

As usual when a new academic year starts the news picks up on the children that have been sent home due to school uniform infringement.

For my American (and other foreign land) readers, it should be noted that almost all British schools whether government run or private (and we call some of these private schools ‘public schools’ because they are not government run, but run by the public see here for more info) have uniforms. School uniforms in Britain range from the simple “grey skirt or trousers, white blouse, grey jumper or cardigan” type uniform, to the extremely strict style where each item is described in detail, styles of skirt and trouser are defined, jumpers or blazers may need embroidering with the school logo, blouses may even have sleeve length and collar types regulated, this strict type of school will probably also demand a certain colour and type of shoe (most schools state no trainers) and will have rules on other aspects of appearance such as makeup, jewellery and hairstyle.

when DD was smaller, at middle school
Parents seem to fall into several camps, the “they are the rules, lets either change them if we dislike them or stick to them” type (that’s me) , the “children should be allowed self expression, uniform is ok but hair and piercings are their own business” type, the “if I can afford it fine, if not you’ll just have to lump it, it’s mostly uniform and that’s fine by me” type, and the “you’re lucky I get them to school frankly, so shut up about looks and just teach” type.

DDs school is especially strict, even to the shop it has to be bought in (fairly sure that’s actually illegal but they ensure that the description of the uniform is so tight it can’t be bought elsewhere). The uniform however is really nice. The girls all seem to like it and I’ve not seem many infringements over the years, just the occasional rebellious wearing of the incorrect colour socks!

When I read some comments online about the news stories, and even personal stories, of children sent home, excluded from lessons or sent to detention for wearing incorrect uniform or flouting a hair colour rule I was not going to bother to get involved, after all it happens every year and every year it sorts itself by mid term. Then I read a piece by Quirky Kook about skirt length and commented, and realised I did need to shoot my mouth off blog about uniforms ..

As I have a teen I was mostly interested in that age group, after all, before then, you are very reliant on what your parents buy and choose, as you get older you tend to be able to take more responsibility for your own looks. Today I discussed it with DD. Surprisingly (or maybe not, she is a mini me) despite being a teen she likes the uniform and the rules. She has little patience with rule breakers. (they apparently once had a girl that had to wear a brunette wig to school to cover her blue and green hair; an interesting compromise) and DD likes the fact that at her school the rules relax as you get older, the upper years are allowed makeup and nail varnish. When I asked what she thought about kids being sent home she agreed it was silly but thinks it’s better if done now, early in the term, to make the point. But she also told me that at her school the office has pre-loved (haha) school uniforms, washed and repaired by the PTA, ready and waiting for girls that claim “I don’t have the right jumper/blouse/skirt” etc – they have new pairs of cheap correctly coloured socks too! What an eminently sensible idea, not least because for the average rebel the thought of wearing second hand kit is worse than conforming to begin with! As far as DD is concerned there is plenty of time out of school to wear her new “School Sucks” logo T shirt!

DD models her school uniform...yes they have a hat
I think if you are going to send your child to a school with a uniform policy (and no law says you must send your child to school of course) then you should be prepared to follow the rules (or maybe join the PTA or governors and try to change them if you really hate them). To me uniforms help to create cohesion in the school, can prevent some forms of bullying, make it simpler each morning for parents to get children ready, look smart and prepare children for a world that (whether you like it or not) has rules that need to be followed, including many jobs where a dress code is enforced.

How do you feel about school uniform rules? If you don’t like them have you tried to change them? Do you stick to the rules or does your child bend them?