21 February 2024

Gordon Primary School students wear inclusion on their sleeves with new Indigenous uniform

| Claire Fenwicke
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Gordon Primary School students

It’s safe to say Gordon Primary School staff and students are fans of the alternative Indigenous uniform: (back) P&C president Sarah Everingham, teacher Andrew Merz, Rylea (year 6), uniform manager Deb Crisp, (front) Ollie (Year 6), Isabella (Year 6), Keira (Year 4) and Olivia (Year 2). Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Gordon Primary School students have a new reason to feel excited about turning up for class each day.

There’s a new alternative school uniform that’s all about making them feel bright, happy and secure in the knowledge that inclusion is front-of-mind.

Wiradjuri artist Eddie Longford, who was born and raised on Ngunnawal country, previously visited the school to work with its preschool students to design a giant mural.

It includes a community circle to represent coming together, and the kangaroo, echidna, koala and wombat that are the names of each preschool class.

The rights to the design were bought by the school, with the P&C then asked if there’d be interest in turning it into a uniform.

“We asked parents how they felt about an Indigenous shirt coming to the school uniform, and the response was overwhelming, everyone was really excited about it,” uniform shop manager Deb Crisp said.

“They love the colours, they love the idea, and we’re about inclusion these days, we’re trying to incorporate it into everything – into our workplaces – so why not into our schools with our children?”

Gordon Primary School anniversary cake

The mural’s design is also being used elsewhere in the school, including for Gordon Primary’s 30th anniversary celebrations. Photo: Gordon Primary School Facebook.

The P&C met with Peter Jensen from Capital Prints Fyshwick to turn the mural into clothing, with the plan to also make sure the school’s colours of black and gold were incorporated as well.

“We created it with Pete, put an advertisement out saying it would be coming soon … and then we just had to wait for the stock to arrive,” Ms Crisp said.

Over the school holidays the order of 200 shirts was completed, so then it was fingers crossed they’d actually be ordered.

“Within the night, my email had gone absolutely crazy and we had over 40 orders within the first hour or so of releasing them. We’re now actually out of stock, we have to do a new order – they’ve just been a massive success,” Ms Crisp said.

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Part of the success could be down to a practical element, as the main school uniform shirt is gold and can be harder to keep clean. But P&C president Sarah Everingham said it’s about more than that.

“It looks much funkier, it’s cool, it’s more uniform-like, and I think [the kids] all look great in the playground together,” she said.

Acting principal Christopher Antram said he could also tell the kids were proud to be wearing the new uniform.

“School needs to be a home away from home … if this is something that helps any student increase their sense of belonging, it’s something we should definitely do,” he said.

“It’s about a sense of connectedness to the school and belonging, and anything we can do – whether it be uniform, whether it be adjustments in the classroom, the physical space where they access their learning – anything we can do to support that is what we’ll do as a school.”

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According to the students, it’s just a more fun option each and every day.

Year 6 student Ollie especially likes that it’s bright.

“It incorporates the colours, but also that we’re an Australian school and that we’ll take you if you need a school,” he said.

Fellow student Rylea is also a fan.

“The yellow one was a bit plain and boring, but this one is nice.”

Year 6 student Isabella and her sister Keira have Indigenous heritage, and they said their families were happy that their identity could be expressed by what they wore to school each day.

Isabella said it was about feeling accepted and sharing her family’s background.

“When you put it on, you feel happy and bright to start the day,” she said.

Will it remain the only alternative Indigenous uniform option for the school? Ms Crisp hinted there may be more to come.

“So watch this space.”

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