• Back to the future?
Some years ago, it appeared as if uniforms were on their way out. But presently, the drift is undeniably the other way. With a few exceptions, schools that do not have a uniform desire one; schools having poor uniform desire to be smarter; and even those schools who are already smart are thinking about whether that additional bit of piping on a blazer, or a brand new logo that will make them stand out from the competition which of course, is often what it is all about.
As a result, instead of putting aside that piece of neckwear that appears like a strange garment for the twenty-first century – the tie – schools are in fact formulating excuses towards having a wide range of tie (for different prefects or houses). Girls are likewise made to put them on. And the school badge, sported on the blazer, is making a return, throwing out the logo on the sweatshirt.
• A Growing Trend
In Hemel Hempstead, five from the seven schools present now, insist on a blazer. And even as girls might breathe a relief sigh that the floppy beret has become a thing of the past, boaters and caps are still available abundantly. Whether being smart improves performance and morale is a topic of debate.
The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) carried out its own survey, and supported head teachers who state that uniforms go down well with parents – in fact 83% of parents preferred it. Some said that it creates clothes that everyone is on an equal par with. It also lowers peer pressure towards having the most recent designer gear and, subsequently, reducing harassment.
• Case Study
Longdean Community School has compressed a circular pathway as regards to uniform – from blazers to sweatshirts, and now to blazers again. Twelve years ago, its pupils were supposed to put on navy blue blazers, but they did not wear them correctly and the look was shabby. When the national drift turned casual, Longdean followed suit – with sweatshirts that appeared "faded". Another head persisted on a "proper" uniform – badge, black blazer, smart shoes, and silver and blue tie. Here is some of the feedback from these changes:
• Teachers' finding: it has given the school a sense of uniqueness.
• Parents' verdict: almost all in favour, except from a parent who thought it wasn’t a flattering look. The remaining parents valued the elegant appearance, and did not mind the price. According to another parent, she stated that they would have had to spend big on designer or ‘on trend’ clothes if school uniforms have not been in existence.
• Pupils' verdict: 6th formers will be putting on ‘workwear clothing’ from next term, which they love. The younger students would rather not have a uniform, but if they need to, they would like the smart appearance and the additional pockets in the blazers. An 11 year old pupil gave the uniform the final accolade: "It is cool!"