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The benefits of having students wear same uniform and have same hairstyles

Messenger Why are schools so obsessed with all children looking the same? Since the later part of the 20th centuryschools in Australia have opted for strict uniform policies, where students will wear an identical set of clothes.

But by providing a blanket approach to school uniform policies, schools risk repressing cultural identity and diversity. It was reported that the school tried to justify its position by saying that all students have to comply with the rules around school uniform, and that it had asked white students returning from holidays to Bali to remove their braids. Following a huge backlash over the decision, the school has since backed down. Each state has anti-discriminatory law in place that prevents schools from enforcing uniform options that disadvantage students due to sex and culture, among other factors.

10 Advantages and Disadvantages of School Uniforms

But what is reasonable can be tricky to define. Are school uniform policies over the top? Traditionally, uniforms in schools have served to homogenise the student body and create a sense of school membership.

Debate: School uniform

A recent study, using data from 39 countries, found that wearing uniforms in schools did help students to be better behaved. Another study in Americahowever, found that students who were not wearing school uniform performed better academically than those who did wear uniforms. For these students, the research showed that behaviour and attendance were not affected by whether students wore school uniform or not.

  • School uniform supporters are enthusiastic about the positive changes that have been observed in students who wear school uniforms;
  • Despite this — or perhaps because of it — schools have rigidly detailed uniform policies in place that police all aspects of how students present themselves;
  • If students were not permitted to wear coats, it would be more difficult to conceal weapons;
  • This can lead to lower self-esteem and self confidence on students who do not feel they look good in uniforms.

In the 1960s and 1970s in Australia, resistance grew to many aspects of the authoritarian practices of school life, including the wearing of a uniform. The uniform came to be seen as a symbol of student oppression that suppressed the right to self-expression. Queensland University of Technology professor Jennifer Craik argues that school uniforms are used to not only control the body and its behaviour but also actively produce the particular attributes of the self that are deemed desirable by the school.

Australia is now so diverse, that to apply a blanket approach following traditional dress requirements is thoughtless at best, and discriminatory at worst.

The benefits of having students wear same uniform and have same hairstyles

Such restrictive uniform requirements also create tension between students and schools. Self-expression Children and young people yearn for the right to self-expression through hair, dress and facial decoration. Outside the school grounds, we see this in hair of varying colour, jeans ripped and tight, facial hair of varying styles, and make-up applied liberally. We know that as children develop into adolescents they begin to make independent choices and assessments about who they are, who they will be, and how they will act in the world.

As such, they often desire increased independence. Despite this — or perhaps because of it — schools have rigidly detailed uniform policies in place that police all aspects of how students present themselves. It is not unusual for uniform policies to state that shorts are for boys and skirts are for girls ; that hair length for boys must be above the collar; that skirt length must be just below the knee ; that jewellery is to be no more than one watch and one pair of studs; that boys are to be clean shaven; and that socks for boys are white, and socks for girls are brown.

Some schools are starting to be more flexible, updating their uniforms and introducing gender neutral options. Carey Grammar in Melbourne for example introduced pants for girls this year. However, in schools with such strict policies, it is no surprise that students rebel against these expectations - especially when they do not see this way of dressing reflected in the adults around them in workplaces in the majority of cases. Young people may be more prepared to accept the limiting of their choices if the limits applied are not arbitrary, out-dated and in some cases, directly discriminatory.

While some restrictions of choice in school uniforms may be justifiable for safety reasons, such as leather shoes in home economicsinequity and discrimination have no place in Australian schools. If schools wish to retain school uniforms, they must ensure that uniform policies do not unfairly impact on one group of students. Schools should work with their student body to amend and update their uniform policies, and seek feedback from the broader community.