The Benefits of School Specific Uniform
Although the continued importance of school uniform is reguarly debated in the media, it appears that specific uniform policies are more popular among parents and children than you would imagine. Recently we have seen pupils at a school in Aberdeen vote in favour of adopting a uniform policy after previously having a ‘come-as-you-please’ dress code and we have seen pupils across the country remark on the personal rewards of wearing a school uniform every day.
In this blog, David Burgess, chair of the Schoolwear Association, will outline the research behind the widespread benefits of an effective uniform policy for schools, teachers, parents and, most importantly, pupils.
Sense of pride in your school
A uniform is central to schools building a sense of community among students, staff and parents as well as the local community. We find that students are proud to represent their school in public through their clothes, and those students attending schools without a distinctive uniform saw a badged blazer as a way to improve their school’s reputation.
When children wear a uniform, as well as gaining a sense of pride schools often report improved discipline and concentration. This makes teachers’ jobs much easier and removes the sort of problems many will be familiar with on non-uniform days.
Wearing a uniform sets a boundary by placing a pupil in a ‘working environment’ mindset and helps them separate their home and school life. School uniform places children on a level playing field, reducing the pressure to wear the latest fashionable brands.
In 2018 we conducted a series of focus groups with pupils from Year 7 and Year 9 to get the inside views on uniforms. We found that many pupils chose to remain in their uniform outside of school to complete homework. Most children explained that it helped them stay focussed while they worked, keeping them in the ‘school mindset’. While non-uniform days may be exciting, our research found that pupils viewed them as ‘non-work’ days, and teachers reported a drop in behavior standards as a result.
School uniform plays a key role in promoting pride, self-confidence, and a feeling of belonging within the student body. These factors contribute to students’ wellbeing, removing the additional pressures of deciding what to wear and added stress of meeting the expectations of their peers. Uniform removes the points of difference between students, thus unifying the student body and providing a greater focus on academic work.
With climate change, sustainability and fast fashion taking centre stage in the media, it is important that schools consider long lasting clothing options. The removal of school specific uniform would likely lead to an increase in parents purchasing poorer quality garments which will need to be replaced more frequently. Good quality school uniform is designed to stand the test of time – as well as the daily trials of playground activities – and therefore provide better value for money.
Great value for parents
It is easy for parents to be disillusioned by the media’s suggested costs of school uniform every year. However our research finds that a well-made durable uniform costs significantly less than what is often reported and will often last a child beyond one school year, and potentially even longer, minimising the need to keep buying new items. Assistance is there for those families who may struggle, with many retailers offering discounts and promotions as well as pay monthly schemes which allow parents to spread the costs over an extended time frame.
School uniform creates a sense of community and equality in a school environment, placing children on a level playing field and developing a sense of pride. By investing in quality uniform made from durable fabric parents can choose a more sustainable option. That delivers great value over the course of a pupil’s school life.