16/09/2013 13:27 BST | Updated 16/07/2015 05:59 BST

School Uniform Rules

So here we are - a new term and a new wave of parents proving utterly incapable of getting their children to dress according to the school rules.

In Hull, 74 pupils were sent home on the first day at the Endeavour School for failing to abide by the new school regulations. In Ebbsfleet Academy, Kent, 5% of pupils failed to make it through the doors. One had the wrong bag. Another had broken the makeup rule and drawn her eyebrows back on having plucked them into oblivion.

I fully support these head teachers in their endeavours. If you make a uniform rule, the only way to make that rule stick is to enforce it. For many parents, the only thing that will make them sit up and listen is when they find Kimberley-Ann back in the kitchen sobbing at 9.10am, face streaked black with contraband mascara, wearing the wrong skirt and no tie.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for these mothers to buy the right uniform for their child and to ensure they conform to the regulations. Attending an assembly at a state school makes it clear some parents are laughing at the rules: kids in leggings; boots where shoes should be; trainers when there is no sport in sight.

School uniforms instil a sense of discipline into the school day. They are an efficient eliminator of choice. A school uniform is a vital part of respecting one's school and the start of a more disciplined approach to learning. At my school we had regulation green pants. Admittedly nuns take uniforms to extremes.

Despite getting schooling free at the point of use, parents still love to complain: "we need to be given more time to buy these things". One would argue a two month summer holiday is plenty of time to get organised. "Uniforms are expensive".

Predictably the Lib Dems have jumped on this wave of non-conformism; "we must make uniforms cheaper" "we must stop schools profiteering from uniforms".

The last summer dress I bought my child cost £7 in a local supermarket. One mum with a 'special letter' from the council in the queue at the uniform shop achieved her entire school uniform requirement for just £1.48.

Ask how many scruffy kids in the playground have a play station or an iPhone. To quote Gove on food banks, in most cases is it a simple case of financial mismanagement.

The law is a blunt tool for a reason: things are right or wrong; good or bad. With school uniforms we have to have the same approach: black not blue; no makeup = no makeup; this bag not that one; zero-tolerance of deviation from the regulations.

Parents need to stop treating school that is 'free at the point of use' as free. They need to appreciate the value of education, and how much more effectively this can be achieved when there is pride in the school and a pride in the uniform that goes with it.


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