Different schools have different policies towards the clothes that their students wear. Some schools have a set uniform and are extremely strict about the brand and style of the clothes. Others have a uniform, but allow students to be creative within certain guidelines. Still others allow their students to wear what they like – perhaps within certain guidelines. There are both advantages and disadvantages to mandatory school uniforms.
No hierarchy – In a school, there are always going to be children from different backgrounds and cultures, some wealthy and some poor. When they are able to wear what they want, the difference between those with wealthy parents and those without can be very significant. A uniform, however, means that the difference is much less pronounced, particularly if the uniform guidelines are very strict. This can cut down on bullying.
Less expense – Uniforms can also cut down on the expense of clothes. At schools with no uniform policy, those from wealthier families could demand more and more expensive brands to keep up with their friends. Students with uniforms generally have two or three sets of clothes to wear every school day, plus the clothes tend to be hard-wearing, thus working out to be a good financial bargain.
Easy to spot – Most schools involve field trips at one point or another. The general public like to see young people out and about, particularly if they are smartly dressed. It is also easier for teachers to keep an eye on students when they are all dressed in a similar way and members of staff from the visited site also know exactly who they are without having to make an effort.
Sense of belonging – A neat uniform can instil a sense of belonging and pride in a student, which lasts throughout the school day. At the very least, it can prevent a student from getting into trouble while wearing a uniform – once a witness sees a uniform or a security camera picks it up, the chances of the student escaping justice are slight. There is also the advantage that, once home, the student can change clothes and draw a line under the school day.
No self-expression – The main argument against wearing uniforms to school seems to be that the students miss out on self-expression, something that is considered very important in a social environment. Students may be less likely to develop an interest in clothes if they have to wear the same as everyone else. However, there is still time after school and at weekends to develop their own form of self-expression, and most schools allow some leeway in the wearing of the uniform.
Less leeway for religious beliefs – Certain schools with school uniforms are so strict that they refuse to let children from minority and religious backgrounds wear items that are important to them, such as caps, veils and robes. This differs from school to school though; some schools are less strict than others. It is always worth checking with the school in advance so that there is time to change if the uniform rules exclude religious clothing.
Rule-breaking – There is no doubt that some children, particularly once they reach their teens, do not react well to rules and will deliberately make trouble by turning up in non-uniform clothes, or will re-style their uniform inappropriately. This then means that teachers are constantly having to send students out of the classroom or even home, which wastes the time of both the teachers and students.
Expensive for some – The cost of uniforms at schools with specific brands and styles can be prohibitively expensive for families who are hard up, especially if they have more than one child at the school at a time. This can result in them turning up to school without a uniform, until such a time that they can save the money or receive a clothing allowance. This can ostracize the child in question.
As this article shows, there are both advantages and disadvantages to wearing a school uniform. If you feel strongly about it, then you may want to choose a school based on their school uniform rules (or lack of them).