Shirts, Ties and Blazers: It’s all gone too far…

Shirts, ties and blazers: the outfit staples that we all longed to put behind us as teenagers. School uniform was simply Satin in disguise to any budding fashionista. I can’t remember being overly concerned about the outfit’s fashion value, however the comfort aspect of top-button shirts did raise many concerns. You are probably wondering so far as to what great academic interest school uniform has right now? Why am I writing about this? Shouldn’t education professionals be far more concerned about fighting the supreme court to legally ban fidget spinners? Sadly not- welcome to the recent case of the school exclusion from wearing “the wrong black brogue-like” shoes.

As much as we can joke about school-uniform issues, there is a real sociological issue regarding the extreme lengths some teachers take just to maintain uniform standards. I have decided to write this blog post upon reading that twenty-pupils (yes, a big fat two and zero) were sent home on the first day at Hartsdown Academy thanks to their ‘ill’ choice of uniform. It becomes even worse when you find out the next two days at this school consisted of a police intervention and fifty-more pupils missing out on precious educational time due to the same ‘issue’ with uniforms. Uniform may not be a legal requirement for schools, but “98%… in 2007” opted for it. I always felt a sense of pride as I dashed out of my house with my blazer on. I wasn’t merely a girl satisfying uniform requirements; I was a pupil who was part of my school community. It is abhorrent to think that some students in the twenty-first century are made to feel so unwelcome. School is meant to be a place of love, laughter and learning – not some institution following a Victorian-style regime.

Having a uniform policy can help foster authority, however we must remember that respect can be destroyed in only a few words. British children are growing up in a world centered around commercialism- your societal value equates to your net worth e.g. whether or not you have the  latest iPhone with face-recognition. As educational professionals, our job is to ensure that children enter the workplace with the correct moral values. It is imperative that our pupils understand that your success in life will never solely depend on your income. The head teacher of Hartsdown Academy demonstrates the completely wrong disciplinary approach. Uniform can be costly (as many of us know);  sending someone home for the style of their shoes is teaching pupils all the wrong messages. It’s also… shattering their self-confidence, trust and stifling their creativity. This head teacher clearly forgot everything he had learnt about SHANARRI!

Other organisations aren’t so uptight about uniforms, so why should schools be so concerned? The other day at Rainbows, I was restored with faith. For those of you who joined the opposing team of Cubs (or did neither) Rainbows are typically seen attired in red clothing. A little surprisingly, some of the girls decided to go against the grain and wear the purple version of the uniform. The leaders embraced this fully because it gives each of the girls a personal choice. In the end, freedom is what we look forward to. After a day of work, we are free to go home and see family. In relationships, we are free to choose our friends. In life, we are free to choose which opportunities we embrace. Is it really asking too much to let children add a little personal touch to their own uniform?

To put it simply, the case of Hartsdown Academy frustrated me. It reminded me of how backwards our nation is in relation to our moral values – not technology, of course! Pupils should never be sent home for uniform issues. There are children on the same planet fighting for a pencil and paper. We don’t deserve the title of a ‘developing country’ if we are acting like this. I would like anyone who strongly believes in excluding children for uniform issues to book a plane ticket across the ocean… that would give them a real wake up call.

The following sites were used in the writing of this blog post:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-37298505  (Last Accessed: 29/09/17) This is the article on Hartsdown Academy’s uniform row, from which the inspiration for writing this blog post came from.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/the-politics-of-the-school-uniform-2346367.html (Last Accessed: 29/09/17)

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/514978/School_Uniform_Guidance.pdf  (Last Accessed: 29/09/17)