In stark contrast to our European and American counterparts, school uniforms are a commonplace requirement for children throughout Britain. While there are exceptions to the rule, in general, most academic institutions in the UK demand that their pupils wear a specific set of clothes every day that they are in attendance.
Use of School Uniforms
In recent years, there has been something of a backlash against this tradition, with some critics arguing it is outdated and should be scrapped. In retaliation, proponents of the uniform have highlighted the various ways in which it can provide tangible benefits to the lives of students, teachers and parents. For those still sitting on the fence on this contentious issue, here’s a rundown of the various pros and cons of wearing a school uniform.
Pros for School Uniform
- Smartness. Wearing a uniform to school every day creates a sense of smartness and presentation among pupils, making them look more professional to the general public and encouraging them to take pride in their own appearance.
- Level playing field. Since everyone is required to wear the same clothes, there is no controversy over what children are wearing and the socioeconomic barriers between different pupils can be broken down, reducing the likelihood of bullying.
- Sense of inclusivity. When all students are clothed in the same garb, they will instinctively feel part of a team and generate a greater sense of community among themselves. This promotes good relations with one another and enhances their abilities to work in a team.
- Discipline. Kids who are clothed in a uniform are likely to be conscious that they are representing their school, which in turn may make them more disposed to attending their classes and behaving with more compunction.
- Saves time. If there’s a uniform policy in place at the school, parents do not have to waste time every morning deciding what their children will wear. At the same time, a standard dress code is far easier for teachers to enforce if uniforms are in place.
- Saves money. A recent study found that the financial outlay for parents who had to buy a simple uniform was, on average, £88.05 per outfit, whereas the cost shot up to £113 for those who were forced to create their own wardrobe for children.
Cons for School Uniform
- Individuality. A student who must wear a uniform is less able to express their own sense of individuality, instead being taught to conform to the expectations which society places upon them.
- Sexism. Any school which adopts a uniform policy that designates different articles of clothing for different genders (such as trousers for boys and skirts for girls) stifles the opportunity for people to express themselves as they see fit and could exacerbate mental health issues.
- Autonomy. When students are dictated what they can and cannot wear, they may avoid making decisions for themselves and delay transitioning from an adolescent into an adult, thus impacting negatively on their ability to become autonomous.
- Lump sum expense. Although uniforms actually work out cheaper than normal clothes when priced individually, a child’s everyday wardrobe is normally built up over time. School uniforms, on the other hand, generally constitute a one-off but not inconsequential expense, which can place strain on a family’s budget.
- Performance. Despite the general perception that uniforms can help improve student grade averages and exam performance, there is little to no scientific evidence to back this up. Achievement is more linked to quality of teaching and individual ability than any dress code.
- Student opinion. Uniforms are fairly ubiquitous in the UK, but are less common in the United States – and students themselves are heavily opposed to their introduction. A 2017 survey found that 82% of those asked said they would prefer to wear their own clothes.
Getting the School Uniform Right
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why both factions believe their opinion is the correct one. Despite the ongoing debate, it’s unlikely that the status quo will be changing any time soon in British schools, with uniforms set to remain an integral part of the educational experience for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps the ideal scenario would see a compromise between the two sides of the argument, with uniforms retaining their place but allowing for greater gender freedoms and more opportunities for students to express themselves individually. At the same time, a programme promoting awareness of bullying, why it’s wrong and the effects that it can create could be implemented to educate youngsters and make them more tolerant and understanding of their fellow classmates.
Whatever your stance on the matter, Garment Printing has an extensive range of schoolwear that’s sure to satisfy your needs. From fleeces, jackets and sweatshirts to cardigans, polos and shorts, we only use reputable brands like AWDis Academy, Fruit of the Loom and Regatta Junior. Check out our online store today!