Showing posts with label school uniforms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label school uniforms. Show all posts

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Satchels, blazers and ties - what's the point of school uniform?

The fixation with school uniform is a mystery to me. Education secretary Michael Gove clearly believes blazers and ties are the key to success in schools while lots of commentators reckon uniform improves students’ behaviour, encourages loyalty and belonging and means pupils don’t compete to look cool. But as I’ve written in a previous blog, I don’t see why children can’t wear what they like – as long as it isn’t inappropriate, too revealing or covered in offensive slogans.

I vividly remember the dramatic moment when my daughter stopped wearing uniform and started wearing exactly what she wanted.

Just before her GCSEs, in a bid to mark the last school uniform day in style, she and her pals set about customising their outfits. Even Stella McCartney would have been impressed by their efforts.  Some girls accessorised their school clothes with fuchsia-coloured tights and towering platforms while others wore Ninja Turtle shells they’d constructed from cardboard.

My daughter made a typically bold decision. First she chopped up her navy school polo shirt, closely followed by the kick-pleat skirt she’d worn every day for five years. She then hit on the bright idea of sewing all the ripped-up bits of her uniform back together again and transforming them into a fetching halter-neck and hair-tie. With a final flourish, she painted shiny white stars all over her skirt and wore the whole outfit to her school’s traditional “muck-up” celebrations – the last uniform day before exams began.

When my son arrived home that night, he was far from impressed. He took one appalled look at his big sister and declared: “That’s the silliest school uniform I’ve ever seen...”

As I watched my daughter rip her school uniform to ribbons (it was falling to bits anyway), I couldn’t believe that 12 years had flown by since her first day at primary school. It seemed no time at all since she was excitedly setting out for her reception class in a grey pinafore, purple jumper and matching socks. At four, she was so proud of her old-fashioned leather satchel that she insisted on taking it everywhere she went – even on Saturdays and Sundays. It made a brief reappearance a couple of years ago when, thanks to Alexa Chung and Mulberry, satchels came back into fashion again. Now sadly, it’s been consigned to the depths of the cupboard once more.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Wearing a uniform - for school, work and London 2012

There are loads of arguments in favour of school uniforms. Headteachers say they help to maintain discipline, encourage pupils to focus on their schoolwork and build a sense of loyalty and belonging. Parents reckon they’re cheaper than forking out for everyday clothes and mean fewer battles in the mornings.

But even so, I’m not keen on them at all. I’ve rarely seen anyone look chic in a school uniform and some are downright dreadful. As a teenager at a (very strict) girls’ school I wore a St Trinian’s style navy pinafore, blazer, tie, beige socks and grey felt hat with a badge on the front. We had to wear black shoes outdoors and brown shoes indoors. The outfit put me off uniforms for life – which is partly why my son now goes to a school where he can wear what he likes.

Despite my antipathy towards school uniforms, I can understand the need for them in some professions – the armed forces, police, transport staff and airline pilots just for starters. And I can see that insisting the 70,000 volunteers and 6,000 staff at the London 2012 Olympics are in uniform is a sensible idea. After all, they’ll need to look smart, efficient and easy to spot in the crowd.

But given that London has more talented fashion designers than any other city on the planet, creating a super-stylish uniform should have been a piece of cake. Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton (creative director of Alexander McQueen), Stella McCartney, Erdem, Betty Jackson – the list of fantastic designers is as long as your arm. Surely one of them would be perfect to dream up the Olympic uniform?

But no, the job of designing uniforms for 2012 “games makers” and “technical officials” has been a collaboration between the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, adidas and Next. And I'm sorry, but the result is hideous. The games maker version consists of a purple polyester jacket with red collar and cuffs and beige trousers, while the technical officials will be clad in blue jackets with turquoise piping – not quite so bad, but nearly.

What do you think?

Image: London 2012
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