Why School Uniform Is Bad For Our Children

Another half-term ticked off my list. Survived, and dare I say, enjoyed. But I still can't believe how quickly it crept around. It doesn't seem two minutes since I was frantically shopping for uniforms. However, despite my antipathy to school holidays, I'd expected my two boys to be ecstatic when just before the holidays I'd put on a false bright voice and said ''only four days till school holidays''. But they weren't. Let me assure you though, the reason for this lack of enthusiasm was not because they love going to school so much. Oh no, the reason was because the Friday before school finished was non-uniform day. That's mufti day to us oldies. And Dress Down Friday stood looming between them and the holidays. Mufti day, as I have recently found out, is a huge form of unnecessary stress for our teenage children. Having been forced into unflattering and untrendy uniforms for 38 weeks of the year, the thought of being allowed to express themselves in front of their peers is, well... excruciating. ''And this is why school uniform is so great'', announced husband triumphantly when I told him. Triumphant because we have a never ending 'debate' as to whether school uniforms should exist. He is 'for' and I am 'against'. ''Uniforms take this stress away - they remove the competition'', he enforced. But you see, I consider this reaction from my children towards wearing their own clothes for the day as the exact reason why school uniforms are bad. Every day we send our children to school in identical clothes, worn in identical manners. I don't know about you but I spent my children's younger childhoods encouraging them to be different from one another and then, along came school and told them to dress identically. In my humble opinion, school uniform is teaching our children to be the same; to blend in with the crowd; to conform to how society expects you to be. Don't be different it shouts.... Because if you are different, you won't be able to concentrate on your studies and you'll fail your exams!! - that must be the most ludicrous of all the arguments. Then suddenly, amid these righteous wiles, school scoops our little cherubs up and chucks them all into the deep end of individuality with mufti day. Sink or swim kids, sink or swim. We as communities, schools and families spend our time teaching our children to accept people who are different to us; to embrace one another's quirks and to respect the opinion of others. It is, therefore, absolutely bonkers that we then send them to their main learning establishment in a stifling uniform. As if raging hormones and spots aren't enough to have to contend with - they aren't even allowed to show off any of their originalities. In my opinion, getting dressed in the morning should motivate you for the rest of your day. It should be fun, and style should be a place where you can push your boundaries. Who knows, maybe if we allowed our children to push boundaries with their appearances, they'd have less energies to push boundaries elsewhere. Fashion is the perfect place for children to direct moods and changes. It's an outlet for emotion and a place where they can safely express themselves. But apparently if children are allowed to dress as they like every day for school, they won't be ready to learn. Is this really true? Isn't a child who is being forced to wear clothes that are the same as everyone else, and not what they would have personally chosen, possibly likely to be more distracted than one who has spent time getting ready and feels comfortable and confident. A child feeling a bit low in confidence and unsure of their changing bodies and looks would surely feel better if they had at least been allowed to style their own hair as they like and add a pair of earrings. Some people argue that uniform hides the less fortunate child - I disagree. Even in uniform, a poverty stricken or neglected child will stand out. Wouldn't it be better to focus our attentions on teaching our children to sympathise with those children and try and help them, rather than hide them away within the confinements of school society. All children should be taught about individuality and to be accepting of others differences. They should be allowed to express their individuality through how they present themselves and they should be taught to respect others who are doing the same. I am passionate about building people's confidences and helping them to feel good about themselves. In my opinion, clothes and style play an important role in this. And there is no reason why this can't be throughout all of our lives. Why wait until we are 16 to start expressing ourselves? Our children should always be allowed to show off their colours, developing style is a huge part of growing up, everyday - not just on mufti day.