A shirt, tie and blazer may not be the ingredients for my favourite outfit, but if I were given the choice, I wouldn’t throw away the idea of school uniform. Wearing a uniform is a badge of pride, creates an identity for a school and is an important part of being a school student.
“Uniforms show that you are part of an organisation. Wearing it says we’re all in this together,” Jason Wing, head teacher at the Neale-Wade academy in Cambridgeshire, says.
“Also, if you wear your uniform with pride, it means you are half way there to being respectful, buying into what the organisation is all about.’’
Claire Howlette, an English teacher, agrees: “Uniforms give students a sense of belonging to a particular school and create an identity for the school in the community.”
My school is one of many that seem to be reverting to a more formal uniform – this September I will be wearing a shirt and blazer instead of my old jumper and polo shirt. A number of students have complained about the change, but general opinion is that the jumpers and polo shirts were “childish”.
A school uniform teaches students to dress smartly and take pride in their appearance. Howlette says: “Uniforms help students to prepare for when they leave school and may have to dress smartly or wear a uniform.”
Some people believe that a school uniform can improve learning by reducing distraction, sharpening focus on schoolwork and making the classroom a more serious environment, allowing students to perform better academically.
Perhaps most importantly, a uniform means students don’t have to worry about peer pressure when it comes to their clothes. When everyone is dressed the same, worrying about what you look like isn’t so important. There is no competition about being dressed in the latest trend, which would put a great deal of financial pressure on students and parents. Potential bullies have one less target for their insults; it’s hard to make fun of what someone is wearing when you’re dressed exactly the same.
In America, where a majority of schools do not have a uniform, roughly 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. This might not be directly linked to what they’re wearing, but having a uniform can be a safety net for many students who might otherwise suffer from bullying. A strict uniform gives the impression that rules are strict too, perhaps helping maintain a sense of order at school.
Although wearing a school uniform is less expensive than buying a whole wardrobe of outfits, uniform can still be pricey. Many schools have a specific supplier, and wearing cheaper alternatives can result in punishment if the black skirt you’re wearing isn’t exactly the right black skirt. Finding uniform that fits you, especially if you’re limited to one shop, can also be a struggle.
Recently the Liberal Democrats held a conference about the cost of school uniforms across England. The education minister David Laws is to issue new guidance to end the practice of using a single uniform supplier, enabling parents to shop around for uniform. If schools decide to change their uniform, for example with a new emblem or colour, changes should be restricted to one or two items, preferably with sew-on logos. Changing from a one-supplier system could help families with the cost of school uniform.
Although it might seem a shame to miss out on those two years of dressing as you like at school, I welcome the smart dress code. Not only does it make getting dressed each morning a lot easier, but it sets sixth formers up as role models for younger students, and that’s important.
Macy Vallance, a year-eight student, says: “I like uniforms because everyone is the same and no one can be left out by the way they are dressed. Our new uniform looks smarter, which is good.”
My uniform might not be what I would wear in my own time, but it gives me a sense of belonging, takes away the pressure of what to wear and deters the bullies. School uniform isn’t fashionable, but that’s exactly why I think it should be here to stay.
School Uniforms: A Bad Idea Essay
One of the greatest controversies that is spreading throughout high schools in the United States is parents and their children against the enforcement of their school’s uniform policy. More schools have been adopting uniform policies within the past decade. Rules contained in the policy that are implemented range from wearing certain types of tops (shirts) in specified colors to students being required to tuck in their shirts. In the past, uniforms were exclusively for students who attended private schools because they were “well-off”, but now uniforms are being seen more frequently in public schools on students of all economic levels. Having gone through a school system that considered adopting a uniform policy, I would have to press against the issue of mandated uniforms, because it is simply un-American and unjust.
In America, “The World’s Melting Pot”, we are all unique and should be seen as individuals. Wearing a uniform does not allow for students to demonstrate their individuality; they have to dress conforming to the school’s uniform policy. According to Akerlof and Kranton, “...with attempting to establish a sense of community might be the loss of student’s sense of identification with the school, which could in turn yield lowered outcomes in effort and skills”. These policies leave the students questioning themselves and wondering, “Who am I?”. A survey, of 100 random students, conducted at Zapata High School showed that 72% of students reviewed felt that wearing a uniform suppresses their ability to express themselves as individuals. Forcing students to wear a uniform is also going against the first amendment, which clearly prohibits Congress from making laws that violate freedom of speech; it includes freedom of expression regardless of what form of media is used to express the ideas or information. Although they may be minors, they are guaranteed these rights as well (through their parents). Even our forefathers years ago knew the importance of America and its inhabitants to be individuals; hence Freedom of Speech in the Bill of Rights.
Imagine picking up your child from school to find her in tears. Through her sobs she tells you that her day was spent in In-School-Suspension (ISS) for refusing to remove her head scarf, part of your family’s religious attire; I’m sure that you would be outraged. Your child’s uniform policy does not allow for any type of head gear to be worn, which left her stuck outside of the classroom and in ISS. In the words of the United States Department of Education, “A school uniform policy must accommodate students whose religious beliefs are substantially burdened by a uniform requirement (“Manual on School Uniforms”), this mandate is distributed to all public schools that want to implement or are currently utilizing a uniform policy. What the school did to your child is considered a violation of her religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. A school district in North...
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