Being Modern: School uniforms
Sunday 04 September 2011
Admittedly it feels like just a week since we were all utterly unsurprised by yet more record GCSE results. But already it's back-to-school time. Which, for 85 per cent of parents, according to the recent Cost of a Child survey by insurers LV, means it's time to pick up a new uniform. The big question is, where from? And, given the recent furore over girls' skirts, how high they're riding and whether it would be better to make everyone wear trousers so certain individuals don't need to be sent home to change on a daily basis, what should they be buying?
Uniforms were first introduced here by charity schools for poor pupils in the 16th century, but by the 19th century, they had been appropriated by public schools. From there, they were adopted by state schools keen to advance a degree of parity among students from all strata of society.
Did they? Initially, perhaps, but by the 1970s comprehensives, followed by most other schools, capitulated to the mania for choice, as children railed against what they saw as the identity-crushing nature of the uniform. Before you knew it, the list of prescribed sensible shoes had been replaced by pretty much any pair of shoes, which meant the kids with the most nagging power, or the most well-off, harassed or gullible parents, ended up with the style de jour.
Uniforms thus became symbols of class, wealth and status, and thanks to cheap-as-chips supermarket versions, that's more true than ever, delineating those who can afford to shop in designer stores from those head-to-toe in Asda.
To this end, we salute those schools that insist on children buying their uniforms in one, local, independent shop, and their efforts to maintain equality within the classroom. We salute, too, those tackling the tricky skirt-trouser debate. Whatever they decide, you can be sure some will say they're wrong.
But most of all we salute those ensuring the individuality of our nation's youth is illustrated not by what they can cadge out of their parents, but by what they can achieve in lessons once freed of worrying which trainers will bring acceptance. To your desks!
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...
£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...
£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...