They are at it again. Sigh!
A couple of days ago BBC Scotland covered a story from a High School in the Glasgow area. Basically the school Head Teacher had enforced the wearing of school uniforms, which included a requirement for ties, shirts and blazers.
He was interviewed of course and said the pupils used to come to school in trainers, jogging trousers and sweatshirts. But since he’d been there he had encouraged pupils to wear proper school uniforms with shirts and ties and blazers. Although he’d only asked the senior school pupils to do this, the lower school pupils had “begged” to be allowed to wear the same.
He also said that truancy and exclusions had been reduced by a colossal figure and pass rates and grades in exams had hurtled skyward also. All down to his insistence that school uniforms should be worn. He obviously believed every word he said. Perhaps he hadn’t actually been either aware of or considered the full impact of him being in post however.
Firstly lets acknowledge that there is no evidence in any shape of form what so ever by any body, organisation, council or government department, which has carried out any sort of research resulting in factual empirical results which show that the wearing of school uniforms by pupils has any impact on behaviour, exam results or anything else what so ever.
The claims made which say there is, continue to fail to take into account other factors. In this case the facts are that a more proactive head teacher came along and changed the way the school was being run in a good way, which addressed a variety of differing issues leading to positive outcomes. No other explanation is possible or factual. Simple.
However, the same head teacher and others involved in education that think as he does are doing themselves and their staff and pupils a disservice. The changes introduced to improve teaching, improve the way that discipline is structured and in improving the greater engagement of pupils and parents are what matters and what provides the improvements for all.
It is a further disservice to the pupils and to the parents who have to wear and pay for school uniforms. There are also questions to be answered about individuality, creativity and personal development for pupils. We need thinking people, people who will bring their individual talents to bear on which ever career they ultimately choose or end up with.
We all recognise that not everyone is going to be the next Einstein, Picasso, Lord Olivia, Mozart, JK Rowling, Richard Branson, etc. There will be some though. But we also need people who can think, recognise how to improve the way things are done, challenge the status quo and recognise change as a necessary part of life.
School uniforms or any form of mass uniformity constrain. Constraints are the enemy of progress. There are of course exceptions such as the police and the military for obvious reasons. Team strips possibly. People do wear similar styles of clothing, which identifies them as being part of a fashion, trend or a group, but they don’t tend to wear exactly the same clothes.
It’s one thing to identify pupils wearing hi-vis vests on school outings, which could help in a number of ways and another when there are hundreds of pupils in schools dressed the same way.
We shouldn’t be looking back at schools of yore or see independent schools as a good examples of uniform wearing. The first are in the past for a reason, we’ve moved on and the second? Well perhaps there’s more of an elitist value in wearing a uniform, which depicts the pupils with a quality marks or up market brand type of cache.
Encouraging your child to be all they can be is fundamental to their development and that same encouragement needs to stress how unique and wonderful each individual is. Our children should be different, be who they are, be who they can be and most of all be unique.