The subject of school uniform is something that had been debated for a long while, and probably will for many years to come. Whilst it's true that having a school uniform has numerous pros, I struggle to see how they outweigh the many cons. Two of the widely believed pros include: creating a strong sense of unity and pride for the school and ensuring that every student is equal regardless of socioeconomic status, thus arguably stopping bullying. School uniform stops bullying? The harsh reality of the 21st century is that kids will find hundreds of other ways to be mean to each other. The uniform will just be modified to express who the "cool kids" are, from the length of a girl's skirt to the thickness of a school tie, and the school are too concerned with telling the girls that their skirts aren't an acceptable length to acknowledge the girl who is crying in a corner because everyday she is teased and mocked because her skirt is the right length.
Requiring students to wear a blazer and tie for a 7-hour school day is not only uncomfortable but also very expensive to provide. The blazer itself will burn a £40 sized hole in a parent's pocket, as they are often required to be bought from an official uniform supplier that has been selected by the school. So any hopes of saving a bit of cash and buying one from elsewhere are demolished, as your child will likely be sent home from school due to it not being "the right one".
Not only do schools specify exactly where you can purchase your uniform from, but are now also releasing a long list of acceptable accessories, from sock colour, hair colour, the colour of their shoe laces, to the colour of the hair tie, just to name a few. For me, the acceptable sock colour was black and white, hair ties were only allowed to be neutral colours (or purple-our school colour), and teachers would go out of their way to check you were following those rules. Every morning in form time we would be told to lift up our trousers to display the colour of our socks- despite the fact that 90% of us were wearing those God Awful 'Kickers' boots that covered your entire foot. Wearing the wrong colour socks? Detention. Maybe even sent home if you were a regular offender. Your hair an unnatural shade? You can't possibly learn with blue hair! Better be sent home and banned from returning all traces of it are gone.
The main point here however, is just how ridiculous it starts to get. How many times a day must a teacher have to remind a child to tuck their shirt in, request someone to take off a bracelet, or even be forced to remove a child from their lesson due to their hair colour? Teachers end up having to make subjective judgements where no matter how hard they try, at least someone gets treated unfairly. They find themselves spending more time in a lesson debating about how a blue shoelace isn't affecting anyone than actually teaching.
I ran a poll on Twitter and out of the 280 people who answered, 42% answered yes to the question "Have you ever been removed from a lesson due to a uniform infringement?", with another 32% voting yes to "Have you ever been sent home from school due to a uniform infringement?".
One Twitter user told me:
"I once got put into isolation for half a day due to a logo on my trousers, that could only be seen if my trousers were lifted up. A teacher went through the effort to lift them up and have a look."
Another explained how a student at her school was once excluded due to having stars shaved into his hair:
"He was excluded from school until all traces of them were gone, meaning he had to wait 3 weeks for his hair to grow back before he could return."
That's just two examples of people having their education stopped due to these absurd uniform rules, but the reality is that it's happening to 42% of students these days, which is an incredibly high number. That's 42% of students who might have gotten an A in that Maths exam if they had been present in the lesson where they explained how to find the circumference of a circle. 42% of students who might have missed out on getting into their dream university thanks to being sent home for the colour of their socks.
By schools sending pupils home and stopping their education- whether it is as little as missing one science lesson to go home and change your trousers, or being unable to sit an exam because you came to school wearing trainers- it is teaching students that their appearance is more important than their education. It leaves students feeling discouraged and question whether it is even worth turning up to school and trying to learn.
Students are placed under an exorbitant amount of pressure as it is these days to get good grades, and on top of all this pressure they are now expected to dress exactly the same as one another, the school uniform squashing any chance of expressing any individuality they have. Students are being taught to all be the same; dress the same, act the same and for what reason? To create a sense of unity and school pride? To teach them the importance of dressing smartly and having a clean and tidy appearance? All it's teaching them is that if you're different in any way, shape or form then it's not acceptable. That they will be punished for being different. It is no wonder that more and more children are suffering from low self esteem, mental illnesses and are lacking confidence when school children are now putting more pressure on themselves as a direct result from the education system.
How head teachers, governors and even some parents are unable to see how harmful this is to children is completely outrageous to me. Whilst I'm not expecting school uniforms to be abolished any time in the near future, I think it is very clear that something needs to change for the sake of school children all over the country.