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Uniforms a smart move for our schoolchildren

By Greg Cornwell - 5 February 2016 17

School uniform

The audible collective sigh has drifted away upon summer’s hot winds as parents return to the normality of having their children back at school.

Certainly the bank account is lighter because each new school year brings a plethora of new items to be purchased for the ensuing twelve months curriculum, with little or no opportunity to reuse in subsequent years.

However in 2016 some Canberra parents’ wallets will face less cost in the future with the decision of some government schools to revert to wanting their students to be outfitted with that non-government give-away: a school uniform.

There is nothing elitist about a school uniform – least of all the way most children wear them – and designs nowadays allow for colourful alternatives to the drab practical styles of the past which often tried unsuccessfully to create young ladies and gentlemen well before they were ready to enter the adult world. The outfit doesn’t even need to be expensive, say a blue shirt perhaps with the school’s logo and black shorts/trousers/skirt.

The biggest advantage, at least to parents who are footing the bill, is the uniform is a constant, unchanging year to year unless a new principal wants to make their mark – a matter for the school’s P&C to decide, methinks.

Thus while the child might change and indeed will over the years the uniform does not. Clothing pools can be established where last year’s by now too small top, washed or dry-cleaned, can be sold off or even a new size purchased, perhaps with a small charge, the profits going to the school.

Uniforms not only save parent’s money they add to the esprit de corps of the school and perhaps help identify those misbehaving on the homeward-bound bus.

So congratulations to those schools and their communities who have seen the sensible and practical way to relieve parents of some expense and, dare I say it, introduce a little discipline into their schoolchildren’s lives.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Uniforms a smart move for our schoolchildren
rubaiyat 5:04 pm 08 Feb 16

Maya123 said :

“Kids do not look after clothes, that is a fact.”

This is not a fact.

On my daily walk I often cross the oval behind the local primary school.

I pick up the discarded jumpers and other oddments lying on the grass and drop them off next to the main school door, before they overnight it out in the grass. The teachers don’t seem to care, but it bothers me.

With both our boys it was an endless search for “what happened to your… XXX”, school uniforms, sports uniforms, equipment.” The school Lost Property would have challenged St Vinnies.

Often it was sheer carelessness with boys picking up other boy’s stuff, but in a few isolated cases it was a bit of klepto. One boy was expelled for stealing iPhones.

pink little birdie 3:46 pm 08 Feb 16

Southmouth said :

I have 4 kids at a school at which being in uniform is mandatory. I dislike they way that the smallest deviation is treated as a capital crime but otherwise it is great. Rarely does something survive to be handed down as we buy the minimum quantity and wash it within an inch of it’s life which we find is the most economical approach as we are washing anyway. I don’t accept that no uniform is cheaper especially for high school with all it’s peer pressure. An interesting illustration of which is our school having uniform free days which are known by the students as “judgement day”.

I went to a colour code high school followed by a no uniform college. There was almost no mention of brands and styles… this might of been because for everyday wear most people wore very similar clothes, jeans and polos in the appropriate colours. Even skirts were relatively rare due to functionality.
Some kids who transferred out of private schools may have cared at the begining but not after a few weeks.

madelini 2:37 pm 08 Feb 16

gazket said :

your story is about forcing school uniforms yet you say uniforms are a matter for the school’s P&C to decide,

hypocrite,

Not hypocrisy. The article is about uniforms in general, the P&C comment was regarding style changes at individual schools.

Southmouth 1:27 pm 08 Feb 16

I have 4 kids at a school at which being in uniform is mandatory. I dislike they way that the smallest deviation is treated as a capital crime but otherwise it is great. Rarely does something survive to be handed down as we buy the minimum quantity and wash it within an inch of it’s life which we find is the most economical approach as we are washing anyway. I don’t accept that no uniform is cheaper especially for high school with all it’s peer pressure. An interesting illustration of which is our school having uniform free days which are known by the students as “judgement day”.

Maya123 11:42 am 08 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

Re cost. I worked in Canberra for a short time at a local primary school. They had racks of second-hand uniforms for sale, so uniforms don’t need to cost a fortune.
When I was a child at least at one of the schools I attended, would hold a day at the start of the year when school products were available for sale, including second-hand uniforms. My mother bought second-hand uniforms at that school for me, and it was hard to tell the difference with them from the new.

Unfortunately the local uniform shop rarely has the right sized clothes for our kids, so buying new became necessary. The second hand offerings have texta scribble, missing buttons and very faded colours. Not that it stopped me from buying them out of necessity if I could get the right size though.

Masquara said :

You aren’t serious. Who can’t afford $3-$4 a week for school uniforms. Plus, if the jumper is looked after well, it can be onsold.

Kids do not look after clothes, that is a fact. I recently bought a pair of socks for my eldest for Futsal. They lasted less than 5 minutes and ended up with a hole I immediately blamed on our pet rabbit. Playing tip, tripping in soccer, eating lunch, splashing acrylic paints around and simply growing up….they will get destroyed or become too small in no time at all and the resale value plummets. That is why I have long ago given up on new clothes, but so many other parents know about the seconds bin that it is hard to find good quality pre-owned uniforms. I’ve tried many, many times.
In High School there isn’t an opportunity to buy used clothes and the only supplier in the region graced with the rights to the logo knows this, as evidenced by their pricing schedule. To clothe our eldest cost almost $400 in the first year. Absolute highway robbery. If only the rules were a little more relaxed…

“Kids do not look after clothes, that is a fact.”

This is not a fact. Parents need to teach children to look after clothes. Some of us were taught this. When I left school and moved into the workforce I was still wearing some of my school clothes, such as my jumper. It was several years old and still in good condition. I only ever had one jumper for high school, so it had to last and it did for the whole of high school and beyond. (As I moved away from where I went to school it was okay to wear, as the jumper wasn’t associated with a local school.) I still have and wear my school duffel coat, and it’s many more years old than I am willing to admit here.
The second hand clothes I have seen did not match your description, except maybe a bit faded.

wildturkeycanoe 6:34 am 08 Feb 16

Maya123 said :

Re cost. I worked in Canberra for a short time at a local primary school. They had racks of second-hand uniforms for sale, so uniforms don’t need to cost a fortune.
When I was a child at least at one of the schools I attended, would hold a day at the start of the year when school products were available for sale, including second-hand uniforms. My mother bought second-hand uniforms at that school for me, and it was hard to tell the difference with them from the new.

Unfortunately the local uniform shop rarely has the right sized clothes for our kids, so buying new became necessary. The second hand offerings have texta scribble, missing buttons and very faded colours. Not that it stopped me from buying them out of necessity if I could get the right size though.

Masquara said :

You aren’t serious. Who can’t afford $3-$4 a week for school uniforms. Plus, if the jumper is looked after well, it can be onsold.

Kids do not look after clothes, that is a fact. I recently bought a pair of socks for my eldest for Futsal. They lasted less than 5 minutes and ended up with a hole I immediately blamed on our pet rabbit. Playing tip, tripping in soccer, eating lunch, splashing acrylic paints around and simply growing up….they will get destroyed or become too small in no time at all and the resale value plummets. That is why I have long ago given up on new clothes, but so many other parents know about the seconds bin that it is hard to find good quality pre-owned uniforms. I’ve tried many, many times.
In High School there isn’t an opportunity to buy used clothes and the only supplier in the region graced with the rights to the logo knows this, as evidenced by their pricing schedule. To clothe our eldest cost almost $400 in the first year. Absolute highway robbery. If only the rules were a little more relaxed…

Masquara 7:10 pm 07 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

Yay, uniforms. At least $20-$30 per shirt, $10-$15 for shorts, similar for track pants and then there’s the jumper, another $35+. So that you aren’t doing laundry three times a week for just a few items, it’ll set you back at least a couple of hundred dollars per child to start with, then replacements as they grow. Not the most economical way to clothe them when Kmart clothes last just as long and a fraction of the price. The school polos they have available at the big chains are never in the colour you need, so inevitably you have to succumb to the school uniform shop and spend up on the credit card. It is expensive enough without deeming expensive clothing as necessary. Why not just allocate a colour code and let parents buy what they can afford? T-shirt and shorts, I grew up in theose. Never was a polo required and I didn’t suffer psychological issues because I wasn’t attired with inferior products.
I am also at a loss to explain why a school would choose black and white as school colours. Black in summer is a ridiculous idea, great way to get heatstroke. White on the other hand, will only stay white until the end of day one, after being rolled in the grass on the oval. No sensibility whatsoever.

You aren’t serious. Who can’t afford $3-$4 a week for school uniforms. Plus, if the jumper is looked after well, it can be onsold.

Maya123 12:47 pm 07 Feb 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

Yay, uniforms. At least $20-$30 per shirt, $10-$15 for shorts, similar for track pants and then there’s the jumper, another $35+. So that you aren’t doing laundry three times a week for just a few items, it’ll set you back at least a couple of hundred dollars per child to start with, then replacements as they grow. Not the most economical way to clothe them when Kmart clothes last just as long and a fraction of the price. The school polos they have available at the big chains are never in the colour you need, so inevitably you have to succumb to the school uniform shop and spend up on the credit card. It is expensive enough without deeming expensive clothing as necessary. Why not just allocate a colour code and let parents buy what they can afford? T-shirt and shorts, I grew up in theose. Never was a polo required and I didn’t suffer psychological issues because I wasn’t attired with inferior products.
I am also at a loss to explain why a school would choose black and white as school colours. Black in summer is a ridiculous idea, great way to get heatstroke. White on the other hand, will only stay white until the end of day one, after being rolled in the grass on the oval. No sensibility whatsoever.

“Black in summer is a ridiculous idea”

This brought back memories of one uniform. Northern NSW and a black tunic. The sports uniform was also all black, except (from memory) a red ribbon around the bottom. This in a climate with hot humid summers, and hardly any ‘winter’.

Re cost. I worked in Canberra for a short time at a local primary school. They had racks of second-hand uniforms for sale, so uniforms don’t need to cost a fortune.
When I was a child at least at one of the schools I attended, would hold a day at the start of the year when school products were available for sale, including second-hand uniforms. My mother bought second-hand uniforms at that school for me, and it was hard to tell the difference with them from the new. Plus none of the kids cared less whether you wore new or second-hand uniforms. What made some kids stand out (and perhaps be looked down at), was not whether the uniforms were new or second-hand, but whether they were clean, ironed (though not as important as the rest), and worn neatly and the wearer had clean, combed hair. In other words, how the wearer presented themselves.

miz 10:27 pm 06 Feb 16

Maya123 said :

My personal experience of school uniforms was that the boys uniforms were comfortable and fairly practical plus warm in winter, but the girls uniforms were uncomfortable, impractical and definitely not warm in winter. Boys could wear shorts or long trousers. Girls had to wear dresses and stockings. (The stockings in High School) The uniform was very discriminatory for the girls; making play and sport difficult, and while boys were warm in their long trousers, we froze with almost bear legs. The stockings only went so far in keeping us warm.
I moved school several times. My mother and grandmother (who had been a professional dressmaker) made many of my uniforms to keep costs down, or I was bought second-hand uniforms.
I have nothing against uniforms and think in principle they are a good idea, but first they need to be of a design that doesn’t inhibit play (thinking of the bad girls’ uniforms here, which almost seemed they were designed to inhibit play, to force girls into an unfit mould of someone’s idea of a ‘lady’). Many children don’t exercise enough, without uniforms contributing to this, and the uniforms need to be simple to wash and preferably don’t need ironing. I have seen primary school children (both boys and girls) wearing colour coordinated tracksuit pants and tops; perfect, at least for primary school children.

Completely agree with this. I hated my school uniform as it was a dress and the boys used to look up the girls’ dresses, they were very limiting (hand stands, anyone?), and a major hassle to maintain even when most Mums were at home. The sports uniforms and ‘bloomers were particularly horrid, and school shoes were expensive.
However these days a unisex primary school uniform of easy care, non-iron fabric shirts, shorts (with a zip pocket for money in the shorts) and jumpers is practical and economical.

wildturkeycanoe 9:28 pm 06 Feb 16

Yay, uniforms. At least $20-$30 per shirt, $10-$15 for shorts, similar for track pants and then there’s the jumper, another $35+. So that you aren’t doing laundry three times a week for just a few items, it’ll set you back at least a couple of hundred dollars per child to start with, then replacements as they grow. Not the most economical way to clothe them when Kmart clothes last just as long and a fraction of the price. The school polos they have available at the big chains are never in the colour you need, so inevitably you have to succumb to the school uniform shop and spend up on the credit card. It is expensive enough without deeming expensive clothing as necessary. Why not just allocate a colour code and let parents buy what they can afford? T-shirt and shorts, I grew up in theose. Never was a polo required and I didn’t suffer psychological issues because I wasn’t attired with inferior products.
I am also at a loss to explain why a school would choose black and white as school colours. Black in summer is a ridiculous idea, great way to get heatstroke. White on the other hand, will only stay white until the end of day one, after being rolled in the grass on the oval. No sensibility whatsoever.

gazket 12:04 pm 06 Feb 16

your story is about forcing school uniforms yet you say uniforms are a matter for the school’s P&C to decide,

hypocrite,

Masquara 11:58 am 06 Feb 16

Whether this is a good idea depends on the school colours – there are a helluva lot of kids in what look like redback spider costumes running around the Ainslie/Dickson area!

Maya123 10:28 am 06 Feb 16

My personal experience of school uniforms was that the boys uniforms were comfortable and fairly practical plus warm in winter, but the girls uniforms were uncomfortable, impractical and definitely not warm in winter. Boys could wear shorts or long trousers. Girls had to wear dresses and stockings. (The stockings in High School) The uniform was very discriminatory for the girls; making play and sport difficult, and while boys were warm in their long trousers, we froze with almost bear legs. The stockings only went so far in keeping us warm.
I moved school several times. My mother and grandmother (who had been a professional dressmaker) made many of my uniforms to keep costs down, or I was bought second-hand uniforms.
I have nothing against uniforms and think in principle they are a good idea, but first they need to be of a design that doesn’t inhibit play (thinking of the bad girls’ uniforms here, which almost seemed they were designed to inhibit play, to force girls into an unfit mould of someone’s idea of a ‘lady’). Many children don’t exercise enough, without uniforms contributing to this, and the uniforms need to be simple to wash and preferably don’t need ironing. I have seen primary school children (both boys and girls) wearing colour coordinated tracksuit pants and tops; perfect, at least for primary school children.

wrigbe 5:52 pm 05 Feb 16

That was never my experience of school uniforms.
I have found that they often cannot be passed on to the younger child because schools decide to change the uniform too often. This happened twice while my eldest was in school from k-y6 meaning that only a few shirts were able to be passed on to my youngest. And the ones that could be passed on were only useable for 1 year before the uniform changed again. They are very expensive unless the school allows colour code uniforms that can be bought from cheap shops. Unfortunately more and more schools seem to be moving away from colour coded uniforms, to uniforms that must be bought a limited number of specialist (and expensive ) shops.
Furthermore they are usually made in materials that cause eczema in eczema-prone children. This was a constant battle I had for the seven years my children were in our local school.
Then there is the washing burden. You either have to buy enough uniforms for each child every day of the week or you have to wash several times a week. This is a major burden for modern families with both parents working. Furthermore in my experience most kids want to take off their uniforms as soon as they get home. So you still need to buy and wash everyday clothes for them as well.

In our house there was a constant level of anxiety when we had to wear uniforms due to these issue – Were the uniforms clean, dry and ironed each morning; and were we going to get into trouble that day because they could not wear the official uniform (due to eczema) and had resorted to colour coded.

Our local public school tightened its uniform policy a couple of years ago and that was the last straw for us. It just was not worth the stress. My children now go to a school with no uniform policy. The only stipulation is that they wear suitable shoes on days when bush walking or doing particular sports.

My kids wear shorts and t-shirts in summer and jeans or long pants and t-shirts in winter. Its easy and cheap.The fear that they will demand expensive or inappropriate clothes is unfounded both in my current experience and also from my own childhood experience of schools with no uniform policy. Perhaps it is the ethos of the school, but kids left to their own devices generally choose to wear comfortable clothes that are suitable for whatever activities they are doing!
Perhaps we should trust and respect our children more.

Ello Vera 4:05 pm 05 Feb 16

It is only a mystery for those that don’t know their social history. When I were a lad, my mother used to rail against the virtual monopoly uniform suppliers had that allowed them to charge premium prices on branded clothing to a captive market. Kitting out four children was a huge outlay. Us kiddies hated having to wear uncomfortable, only fitting for a short period, poorly designed clothing. Back then, primary kids had to wear shorts, even in winter and girls had to wear short skirts and have their legs freeze. High school was a bit better as they moved to a dress code and you could get un-logo-ed clothes at normal prices. Even then, there were several attempts to get approval for girls to wear pants in winter: this was resisted for years.

The issue was hotly debated even back then. The main argument for keeping uniforms was to prevent one-upmanship between students and while it may be thought to exist now, miraculously this paper tiger failed to appear when we dropped uniforms. Kids always find a way to compete and hiding them in conformist clothing will not prevent this. The little buggers always find a way to subvert the rules – so maybe in that sense it will be good for them.

I guess self-expression and non-conformity were more popular in the seventies. Pity that this seems to be dying out, I suppose the wheel will turn again one day.

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