A note came home from school the other day about uniform. It referred parents to the relevant page in the handbook about what was and wasn’t cool for school.

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It stated that pupils aren’t allowed to wear “denim clothing; coloured shirts; jumpers/sweaters with stripes or logos; hooded tops with logos; round neck sweaters which do not allow the school tie to be visible; baggy trousers; trainers; combat jackets; full length coats; baseball-style caps; low cut tops; cropped tops; immodestly short skirts; fashion belts; fashion jewellery; shorts; tight clothing; skinny jeans/trousers”.

Anyone know how short is immodest? I believe it was more than six inches in my day if measured while kneeling from floor to hem.

The whole thing took me back. To pupils school uniform is a challenge. Once we’d grown out of trying to cultivate the grubbiest cuffs and collars, we moved on to more subtle customisation.

Apart from ever shorter skirts (turned-over waistband anyone?), there were badges on the back of lapels, fat and fatter tie knots, pretty cardis, earrings, socks pulled up like stockings, skirts hobblingly tight, coloured buttons, Doctor Who scarves and laces with jolly beads on them.

So, it seems, nothing much has changed. I wonder how much energy has been expended over the years by school staff and parents trying to impose uniform rules and pupils bending them like fury.

Maybe we should put that energy into something more worthwhile, like teaching. What do you think?

The arguments for school uniform start with money – all pupils are equal. Theoretically yes, although anyone who was ever a pupil will know that’s not true. Look to shoes, pens, gadgets, coats and bags and differences are clear.

Uniforms instil a sense of identity and work ethic. Apparently there are studies that show this. And yes to an outsider it seems so, but surely a resentfully and badly worn tie must do the opposite.

My son’s school say safety is a factor – it’s easy to see if there’s a stranger in the midst. On the other hand some say that as soon as you put a teenage girl in a school uniform she’s the possible target of unwanted attention whether she knows it or not.

So, as the world turns onward and changes make flexibility and ‘the individual’ much more significant. If possibilities grow endlessly and the world is the oyster for our children then why should we care if they dress the same as their peers?

I care that my kids wear school uniform because – and perhaps the main reason for me – it makes my life so much easier. We all know what they’re going to leave the house wearing so we can save our energy for arguments about other things.

As for the rest, most of that stuff about pride, identity and enthusiasm for work comes from good teachers and a well-led school first, what the children wear and how comes second.

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Sophia

A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.