At the start of the new school term pictures always seem to emerge of children being sent home for not complying with the school rules on dress code.
Ever since I was in school (which was a few years ago now) school uniform has always been a bone of contention and the one great thing to look forward to in the sixth form was the fact you could wear your own clothes. It seemed almost a right of passage to be free of the school tie and stroll through the school gates wearing your own identity.
I went to a very large comprehensive school where in those days everyone had to attend morning assembly. No matter where you sat in that hall the Head Mistress always managed to spot mascara on your lashes. I was convinced she had x ray vision! Your name was duly called out and you were paraded like some “Fallen Woman” in front of the whole assembly, which at the age of fourteen was mortifying.
I know I shouldn’t have had my little bit of mascara on. It was against school rules but I can never remember doing it to be naughty or play the system. We just hitched up our skirts and added some mascara, it seems so innocent now.
Is there more pressure on kids to be seen in the latest must wear labels? I think the pressure is greater than in my youth because my parents didn’t have the money and we didn’t have the designer labels, but we did feel a sense of need and competition.
For those of a certain age reading this you will remember “Bell Bottom Trousers” or “Flares”. Well my best friend Amelia (who was an only child) seemed to have all the latest styles from “Chelsea Girl” and turned up at my house one day in what I thought were the most amazing pair of Bell Bottoms I had ever seen.
Yes I was envious,I knew that my parents couldn’t afford a pair so I had to think of a “Plan B”.
Well my “Plan B” took a very unfortunate turn for me. In my wisdom I thought my pink pyjama bottoms, that had a bit of a flare on the bottom, looked the business, so I put them on and walked through the streets to my friends house. I can still to this day remember that feeling of now being one of the gang. Sadly, my Father who was coming home from work spotted me sitting on a park bench with my “Pretend Bell Bottoms” on. I was marched home, sent to bed with a smack and all these years later have never forgotten it.
I have to say having had children of my own I now realise that wearing a school uniform takes away those feelings of not belonging. Yes you will always get some who try and flaunt the rules (like me with my mascara) but it does instil a discipline and a conformity that creates a level playing field for all.
We have to have rules. It doesn’t mean they can’t be tried and tested but there has to be a starting point for our children.
Children get bullied, it’s a sad fact, It’s always gone on so if we can protect our children going off to school by providing them with the required uniform, shoes and appropriate hair style so they “Fit In” and slip through the door without a drama, I feel we are giving them the best start on their journey through life.
They will have a lifetime to find their own identity and learn how to express it. These learning years are the building blocks for a great future and we can’t let the latest fashions take over our children’s learning.
So when they want to wear their pyjamas out after school and walk around the streets please don’t smack them and send them to bed. Embrace their need to experiment , just don’t send them to Tesco’s shopping they might get an ASBO.