Unlike the “own clothes” schools of Europe and America, English schools have for decades adopted a uniform code, often implemented from primary school through to sixth form. Does looking the same as your fellow students for the vast majority of your childhood and adolescence come with any benefit? The issue remains subjective, older generations often in favour of uniform, whilst the youth of today raise many issues with it.
A recent guardian article wrote of 200 Bradford secondary school students being sent home from school – all for non-adherence to the dress code of the school. Is an education system where the uniformity of students coming before their actual education really a correct one? The issues posed by strict school uniform come in multitudes, yet students continue to sit in classrooms strangled by ties and cheap blazers. Performance surely must be higher when comfortable, an exam sat in casual clothes far more effective than in a stifling uniform in summer. Many uniforms are made of cheap, tacky material, and synthetic trousers and shirts can cause discomfort that should never be felt when trying to learn. Teachers remain oblivious to this, strolling by in their linen and cotton clothes, the flexible term of “smart casual” being thrown into the teacher dress code, which is often virtually non-existent.
The issue of gender is also one raised by uniform rules. To begin, the divide produced between girls and boys with the suit and tie or skirt demanded can be harmful to the developing mind of the child in a world in which we should be embracing gender neutrality and choice, not forced divide. Whilst boys struggle with the suit and tie, shorts being abandoned after primary school proving extremely uncomfortable summers, girls suffer grief from various sources. Sexualisation of children through skirt length dilemmas have been a huge issue in schools currently, male teachers somewhat uncomfortable with a child’s body – uniform issues branch out into many other categories.
Of course, there are some pros to uniform. Children from different economic backgrounds are rendered all the same, avoiding judgement on clothing that families perhaps cannot afford. But this uniformity brings many problems in itself – creativity and expression being a key part of adolescence for many students. A place where a student cannot express identity, or moreover gets in TROUBLE for doing so is not a healthy environment for a student to be educated in. school dress codes do not even reflect office dress codes, which some may argue, is the aim of school uniform. In many working places today, you would be incongruous to turn up in a blazer and tie, as comfort in the workplace has been rightfully prioritised over conformity.
To conclude, society continues to evolve, and as should school dress codes. The English school uniform is far outdated, and irrelevant to academic prowess. Having looked at two sides to the argument it is clear that a European style education is far more beneficial to the students of today, and of the future.
Image URL: https://www.goosegreenprimaryschool.org/parents/school-uniform