Thursday, 31 May 2012

School Uniform

When I was at school, our uniform consisted of a green and white striped blouse which could only be purchased (at great expense) from the department store Caley's in Windsor, grey skirt, grey cardigan or jumper and a black and green striped tie. The blouses were uncomfortable and the grey colour was drab. Pupils desperate to express their individuality would undo a top button and wear their ties long and thin (or short and fat depending on current trends) Some teachers were stricter than others at enforcing the correct dress code.

I remember being involved in a campaign to allow the girls to wear trousers. We thought it grossly unfair that the boys were able to wear trousers but girls were forced to wear skirts. Ironically, I now find myself in a position where I am opposing a ruling at my daughter's secondary school to ban skirts.

I am very much in favour of school uniform and I think the one adopted by my daughter's school is  sensible, comfortable and thankfully easy to launder.  It comprises polo shirt and sweat shirt with school logo and black regulation trousers or (until recently) skirt.

The move to ban skirts is because a number of girls have taken to wearing the very short, figure hugging style of skirt that leaves little to the imagination. I have seen the girls walking round town and at the risk of sounding like a fuddy duddy (think I may have already condemned myself there with my choice of language!) I don't honestly think that it is appropriate for a learning environment. I would not be happy for my daughter to dress in a revealing way for school.

I agree with the headmistress and governors that something has to be done to bring the uniform back to an acceptable standard of modesty and smartness but to address the problem with a ban on all skirts seems to me a lazy solution most likely to cause an inflammatory response from parents and pupils alike. Several boys have already turned up to lessons wearing skirts in protest.

My daughter does not actually own a school skirt. She likes the practicality of trousers. However, during hot spells such as we have been enjoying recently, the last thing anyone would want to wear is black trousers (especially since some of the classrooms are impossible to keep cool). It was the morning before the skirt ban was announced during assembly that she had asked me if we could go school skirt shopping for her. I received a letter by post with the same announcement. When my daughter came home that afternoon she was incensed by the decision. She is not one to make trouble but when I told her that I wholeheartedly agreed with her and would be happy to take it up with the head, she surprised me by not shying away from potential confrontation.

I believe that the best way to run a school is to have everyone involved working together for the good of all wherever possible and practical. There will inevitably be conflicts of opinion. As the cliche goes - you can't please all of the people all of the time.

I am unimpressed by the poor management of the age old problem of kids rebelling against their dress code but I am sympathetic to the fact that the head is only human and trying to do a difficult job. I wrote a polite letter strongly stating my viewpoint and my daughter delivered it the following day.

I don't know what the outcome will be but I do know that I am proud of my daughter for not being afraid to stand up for what she believes in. I also know that if we are lucky enough to have more sunshine, I will support my daughter in breaking the rules to wear a skirt, although not one of the skimpy variety that caused the problem in the first instance. My daughter will be a 'knee-length' rebel and I will love her for it.

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