Uniform Conundrum

“Twenty Margate pupils sent home in Hartsdown uniform row”

According to an article in the BBC news, pupils in Hartsdown, Kent have been sent home from school and asked to leave classes for not adhering to the strict uniform policy.  The reason for this excessive regime was explained by the head teacher, Mr Tate who said, “adhering to uniform rules led to better behaviour and improved grades.”  While the majority of parents support the overall effect on appearance and the rules that are in place, some believe this is extreme.  One father even decided to move his daughter to another school which may seem far-fetched over a pair of shoes but is perfectly reasonable given her education is being put on hold.

My school had a very strict uniform policy which had some benefits and disadvantages.  The school certainly holds a high reputation if everyone looks smart and the uniform is uniform but where should the line be drawn? Uniform promotes a sense of community and inclusivity where nobody is judged.  It may be psychological but I did feel like I worked better in uniform than when I got to wear normal clothes on non-uniform days. However, I would not go as far as saying that wearing leather shoes over suede shoes improved my grades.  There is value in teaching young children the benefit of community and uniform is one means through which this can be created.  I do believe that as children grow up, particularly through their teenage years, they should be able to express their individuality and this was restricted for me in a school where I could only have one piercing in each ear and one bracelet on my wrist.

When in uniform, you are representing the school and out and about in public, you are being held accountable for your behaviour so I do understand why schools would be so strict.  Personally I believe that uniform is important but it is too far to suppress the right to learn over something so trivial as the material which makes up someone’s shoes.  The footage on BBC news also shocked me because it brings up issues of inequality.   For some families, buying a pair of brogues over some cheap suede shoes may be difficult because of the cost which means children from deprived areas could be at a disadvantage and that is not right at all.

To summarise, uniform does implement good behaviour and reflect the school’s identity but I feel it can also hide an individual’s personality, suppressing their confidence in some cases.  While punishment is appropriate and necessary to keep up the standards, I do not think that clothing should dictate whether a child misses out on their classes or not.


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