Fashion in schools

Many schools have strict guidelines as to what students can and can’t wear. Some schools even state the colour of socks the students are to wear! Having worked in schools myself, I understand the importance of uniformity, especially during school trips and when visitors are coming to schools. However, I’m now finding myself on the other end of the argument with Squirt. She is no longer happy wearing comfy, practical clothes to nursery – instead wanting to wear dresses, with matching leggings and her hair down! I encourage her to keep her hair tied up so it’s out of her face, especially as her hair has a mind of its own as you can see!

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Squirt is very nearly 4 now, and will be starting school next year. Although she doesn’t have to wear a uniform yet, the discussions we’ve been having about what’s practical clothing for nursery really got me thinking about the importance, or unimportance of fashion in institutions such as schools, brownies and church groups.

I remember back to when I was at high school, a time in my life I really enjoyed. But it didn’t come without pressures from fashion magazines, TV and of course, peer pressure. The fashions then were Adidas Popper Trousers – if you were caught not wearing these on a non-uniform day, you quickly lost a ‘cool point’ from the ‘it crowd’. However there were also things that could be tied into school uniform, such as Kickers Shoes, funky neck-tie knots and hair plastered with hairspray and tied up with at least 3 scrunchies!

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Having grown up and started to bring up my own daughter, these trends, pressures and fashions all seem rather silly. However at the time, they were anything but silly to me and my friends. An article from The Guardian ‘What’s the point of school uniform’ considers the uniform debate from both sides. I agree with the point made by English Teacher, Claire Howlette, that “uniforms help students to prepare for when they leave school and may have to dress smartly or wear a uniform”.

School uniforms can improve learning by reducing distraction, encouraging a focus on school work and adding a sense of seriousness to the classroom. An article from ParentMap.com says that schools with uniform guidelines see an improvement in attendance rates, provide less financial stress to parents and a boost in school security. I believe a lot of students, especially high school students, understand and respect uniform guidelines, however they want to develop their own personality and creativity, and for many this is expressed through their appearance.

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Maybe there will never be a happy medium, and perhaps this deviance is an important part of the growing up phase! Many students are relatively respectful of their schools rules and expectations, and understand (to some extent) the practicality of clothes as well as style. As a parent I will encourage this as Squirt gets older, but should also keep in mind the pressures I felt as a student.

Until next time…

Laura